Just prior to their September 17 Paris Congress, the Tommy Wiking led IFAF announced that six nations had been suspended for violating IFAF anti-doping rules. The United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Denmark and Finland were all suspended for refusing to submit information related to athletes for the selection of a Registered Testing Pool (RTP).
This was an unprecedented move on Wiking’s part and raises a number of questions.
Sweden and Finland are slated to play in an annual international game this weekend in Finland. With Finland’s suspension, what is the status of Team Sweden following the match?
Will they too be suspended? Or will sanctions be imposed on the players? Or will fines be levied?
Another, wider ranging issue involves the European Championships.
Sweden and Denmark are scheduled to play in a four team qualifying tournament along with Italy and Great Britain next year. This tourney will decide which two teams will advance to the European Championships in 2018 in Berlin. Should the fact that Sweden has played a suspended nation – Finland – prevent them from participating? What happens if to the statues of Denmark, a suspended nation?
Sweden did comply with the request from IFAF to supply names of players to be subjected to testing.
If Sweden is suspended for playing against Finland, what then happens to the European qualifying tournament and also the 2018 European Championship?
As of right now, two of the teams from the 2014 championship – Denmark and Finland – have been suspended. Should Sweden be suspended for playing against a suspended nation, only three teams remain from the top six in Europe, Germany, France and Austria.
Austria refused to comply with IFAF’s demand to provide information on individual athletes for testing purposes. One of their leading members – Gregor Murth, vice president of the American Football Bund Österreich (AFBÖ) and former vice chairman of IFAF Europe, spoke out against IFAF recently. What then is the status of Austria? If Austria were to be suspended, who will play in the European Championships?
The other question which arises relates to players from the suspended nations (such as American and Canadian imports) playing for club teams in other countries. In an email responding to the question, Zorica Hofman, general secretary of IFAF, stated:
“The players can play in their teams, but the National teams of 6 countries are not allowed to play, or organize anything.”
When asked twice to clarify Sweden’s status after playing Finland, Hofman did not reply.
It should be noted that none of the suspended nations recognize Mr. Wiking’s IFAF as the international governing body for American football since his controversial non-resignation in the spring of 2015.
For more background on the IFAF split and the history of IFAF’s recent troubles read here.