SPORTS

Doping control presents unique challenge for 2 Ramadan-fasting Moroccan footballers

07/26/2012 11:18 EDT | Updated 09/25/2012 05:12 EDT
GLASGOW, Scotland - It's hard enough playing a 90-minute midday Olympic football match while fasting during daylight hours for Ramadan.

It got even tougher for two of the Morocco men's football team who were chosen to provide a urine sample for doping control after Thursday's 2-2 draw with Honduras. They found it difficult to comply.

"They have not drunk anything since 2:30 (a.m.)," coach Pim Verbeek said.

Players selected at random for doping control can't leave the stadium until they've provided a sample and have to remain in the presence of doping officials.

The two Moroccans both managed to give a sample in the end and left the stadium about two and a half hours after the match.

Verbeek said nine players on the team are fasting during the Islamic holy month, when Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk. The coach said the players sleep during the day, then eat at 9:30 p.m. and stay awake until they've eaten again at 2:30 a.m.

Under those circumstances, Verbeek was pleased that his team was competitive in Thursday's match, which started at noon.

"I had not an idea how they would perform over 90 minutes," the coach said. "That they could play for 60, 70 minutes, I was convinced about that. To be very honest, if you see the situation, I can be very proud of the way they played."

The coinciding timetable of Ramadan and the Olympics poses a dilemma for all observant Muslims. Many of the 3,500 or so Muslim athletes competing at the London Games are expected to keep eating their regular diet.

The coach of the United Arab Emirates men's football team said Wednesday that his team will not be fasting, and the High Egyptian Islamic Council gave athletes a reprieve by announcing a fatwa, or religious edict, stating that Olympic athletes are not required to fast during coaching or competition.

"I could not fast. I need all that stuff, like protein, carbs and minerals," Egyptian kayaker Mustafa Saied said. "I can do it after Ramadan and Allah will accept it because there was an important reason."

___

Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

MORE:cpSports