The Matildas’ hopes of a London Olympic reprieve appear dashed with Australia’s calls to have North Korea banned from the tournament over a doping row falling on deaf ears.
Australia’s women’s soccer team narrowly missed a 2012 Olympic berth, finishing third at the Asian qualifying tournament in September behind Japan and North Korea, who claimed the two Games spots.
But Matildas players and Olympic and football officials were not happy that North Korea were granted to qualify after they were banned by FIFA from competing in the 2015 Women’s World Cup following a doping scandal at the 2011 World Cup in Germany in June-July.
Five players tested positive to steroids and received bans of up to 18 months, while the team’s physician was banned for six years.
Football Federation Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee last month wrote to FIFA, the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Authority, claiming North Korea should also be banned from the Olympics, paving the way for the Matildas to take their place.
But neither has been able to make any headway and FIFA and WADA have told AAP the ruling will not be overturned or challenged.
FIFA stood firm on its decision, saying rules meant the sanctions would be served “only in the competition in which the infringement occurred”.
WADA has the power to appeal FIFA’s decision but it has declined to do so despite the calls from Australian officials.
“WADA has carefully considered the award relating to all the sanctions handed out by FIFA to the North Korea women’s team,” a WADA statement said.
“WADA has taken the decision not to appeal bearing in mind the rules that were in place for the event.”
FFA national teams chief John Boultbee stated FFA would “keep looking for avenues but it’s hard to see any.”
Matildas players were left particularly frustrated by the fact no drug tests were taken at the Olympic qualifying tournament in China, in which they suffered a key 1-0 loss to North Korea in their opening game.
“It’s surprising to state the least, especially when a team has been caught with drugs in their system for the World Cup a month beforehand,” Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri said.
FIFA told AAP the event had not been considered a priority for doping control.
The five North Korean players banned at the World Cup did not take part in the Olympic qualification and can’t compete in London.
With the Olyroos making a slow begin to qualifying, Australia is facing the possibility of having neither a men’s nor women’s side engaged in the Olympic soccer tournament.
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