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Footballer ‘forced’ to break Ramazan fast

London: British anti-doping chiefs have stressed they are sensitive to athletes’ religious beliefs after becoming embroiled in a row over testing a footballer during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

UK Sport’s chief executive Richard Callicott said on Thursday that no athlete would be forced to compromise their religious beliefs after Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan said one of his players, Christian Negouai, had been forced to break his fast earlier this week.

Keegan said the defender, a Muslim, had been “very upset” at having to drink liquids to provide testers with a urine sample and the former England coach said he wanted to discuss the matter with UK Sport.

However, in a statement made available on Thursday, Callicott said: “We respect the beliefs of all religious groups and are sympathetic to their needs when it comes to testing.

“Our doping control officers who carry out the tests are used to dealing with situations that may arise through religious beliefs and I have every confidence in their ability to do so in a courteous and professional manner.

“In no circumstances would a sportsman or woman be forced to drink water. They are always provided with sealed, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free drinks to aid them in producing a sample.” France’s Negouai has been targeted for more frequent testing after being found guilty of failing to take a test last season. (AFP)

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