Doping controversy still haunts - Spain coach
Monday, 11 August 2008

BEIJING, Aug 10 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - A doping controversy surrounding the Spanish women before the Olympic hockey hit the team badly and they discussed not going to Beijing, coach Pablo Usoz said.

Two of the team tested positive for banned substances at a qualifying event in Azerbaijan in April. Spain qualified ahead of Azerbaijan after beating them 3-2 in the final.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) allowed the team to play after finding one player guilty of a doping violation without significant fault or violation and the other was exonerated of any offence.

And the cloud over them was finally lifted this month when the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed Azerbaijan's appeal to disqualify Spain and take their place at the Games.

Spain were beaten 3-0 by hosts China in their opening pool A game on Sunday and Usoz said the women were still reeling from the controversy.

"The drug issue from Azerbaijan in the qualifying tournament was quite complicated and as you know for two months our team was quite perturbed by this issue," Usoz told reporters through an interpreter on Sunday.

"There were even discussions in the team whether it was wise for us to come to the Beijing Olympic Games or not," Usoz said.

"I personally had a role in calming down the emotions of the team members."

Spain argued the doping accusations were the result of a possible attempt to sabotage the team's chances during the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Players and coaching staff complained about the organisation of the event on their return from Azerbaijan.

They said four members of the team had collapsed in the hotel prior to their match against Kenya having inhaled gas that had escaped from the air conditioning system.

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