Vasco wants quick trial for new coach Romario

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Vasco chose veteran striker Romario as its new coach on Thursday as the Brazilian club also urged for a hasty hearing on his positive doping test.

Updated: December 08, 2007 09:22 IST
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Rio De Janeiro:

Vasco chose veteran striker Romario as its new coach on Thursday as the Brazilian club also urged for a hasty hearing on his positive doping test.

Romario's coaching contract will last through a tournament next month in Dubai, in the United Araba Emirates, and could extend through the Guanabara Cup, the first half of the Rio de Janeiro state tournament. He replaces Valdir Espinosa.

Meanwhile, the club is pressing for doping charges against Romario to be heard by the Superior Tribunal for Sports Justice before it breaks for holiday recess on December 18.

The 41-year-old striker tested positive for the banned substance finasteride in October but claimed he had been using it to prevent hair loss.

Graying and balding, Romario admitted to using finasteride, which is the active ingredient in the anti-baldness drug Propecia, after a 2-2 draw between Vasco and Palmeiras on October 28. Romario played about 20 minutes in the second half and didn't score.

Romario will likely be accused of violating Article 244 of the Brazilian Sports Justice Code, which bans doping and carries a penalty of suspension for 120 to 360 days.

In a similar case, Internacional defender Marcao was found guilty this year of using finasteride, allegedly to prevent hair loss, and was suspended for 120 days, although half his sentence was converted into distributing food baskets for the needy.

If Romario draws a long suspension, it could be the end of a brilliant career for the striker who was named the world's best player by FIFA in 1994, the year he led Brazil to its fourth World Cup title.

"We'll speed up the tests, we'll accelerate our defense to try to help the tribunal to schedule (the trial). That's what Romario wants," Paulo Reis, Vasco's vice president for legal affairs, told the Globo media Web site G1.

Finasteride is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list because it can mask use of anabolic steroids.

But Vasco asked the Brazilian soccer confederation to test the urine sample with a reagent available in Europe that would reveal whether Romario used steroids.

"The urine is still in the laboratory," Vasco physician Pedro Valente said on Thursday in an interview with the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo. "Test it to find out if the finasteride masked anabolic steroids."

There was no mention whether the controversy would affect Romario's recognition for scoring what he counted as his 1,000th goal, on a penalty kick last April.

Many Brazilian fans defend the striker - including Rio de Janeiro Mayor Cesar Maia.

In a newsletter on the Internet, Maia said he "consulted six medical specialists and all claimed the substance taken by Romario has absolutely no effect on physical performance. Just the opposite, it can even harm it. So there is no reason for the (sports tribunal) not to judge Romario immediately and acquit him."

Bebeto, Romario's linemate on the 1994 World Cup champion team, also defended his former partner.

"It was an accident, you have to give the little guy a break," he said. "With all the history he has in soccer, he wouldn't do anything wrong."

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