EURO 2000
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Saturday, July 28, 2001
Doping case not over, says Romanian Olympic Committee

BUCHAREST, July 28 (Reuters) - Top Romanian Olympic officials insisted on Saturday that the controversial doping case involving two local club players was far from over.

The Romanian Olympic Committee (COR) criticised soccer officials for their decision not to ban Daniel Neaga and Cristian Buturuga after they tested positive for the banned steroid mentenolone in May.

'The COR doesn't consider the case is over,' the COR general secretary Dan Popper told Reuters on Saturday. 'They tested positive so they both have to be banned, according to the international regulations against doping in sport.'

The League of Professional Football (LPF) decided to clear both Neaga and Buturuga, even though they became the first Romanian players to test positive for banned substances when they failed dope tests after a match against Rapid Bucharest in May. Neaga and Buturuga played for First Division Arges Pitesti.

'Daniel Neaga and Cristian Buturuga are innocent,' LFP general secretary Valentin Alexandru said last week. 'They didn't know who had given them the drug, or when, so the LFP decided they were not responsible.'

Steaua Bucharest, who signed Neaga last month, included theplayer in their squad for Wednesday's Champions League qualifying round match against Sloga Iugomagnat of Macedonia.

Under Romanian sport regulations, however, both players should have been banned for a year.

Romania's Sport Ministry earlier this month urged a much tougher stance against players who failed drug tests. The LPF claim, though, that Romanian soccer has its own regulations.

'We have our rules, even if they are stupid, but they are ours and valid in Romania,' LPF president Dumitru Dragomir said. 'FIFA and UEFA have their rules, which are valid in international soccer.'

'We didn't risk anything,' Steaua's coach Victor Piturca said after Wednesday's match. 'The LPF hadn't banned Neaga so I decided to use him against Macedonia.'

Meanwhile, UEFA insist that Steaua Bucharest must play next week's Champions League qualifier against Sloga Jugomagnat in Skopje, despite the escalating ethnic strife in Macedonia, a Steaua official has said.

'UEFA sent Steaua a document saying that our match against Jugomagnat will be played in Skopje, as initially established,' Steaua sport director Mihail Marian said on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Steaua asked UEFA to move the Champions League tie as far away from Skopje as possible because of the situation in Macedonia.

On Tuesday, Nationalist mobs ran riot through Skopje after dark, hurling rocks at embassies and torching vehicles used by peace monitors after the government accused Western mediators of helping rebels tear Macedonia apart.


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