LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- FIFA's doping rules do not fully comply with the World Anti-Doping Code, sport's highest court said yesterday.
Despite the ruling, the soccer federation is not required by Swiss law to amend its policy.
''The FIFA code is not in full compliance with the WADC," a Court of Arbitration for Sport panel said.
The decision is not binding, but merely an opinion on the longstanding dispute between FIFA and WADA.
The Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency, which dictates doping policy for all 35 Olympic sports federations, has accused FIFA of noncompliance with its doping code because of FIFA's unwillingness to adopt WADA's recommended two-year ban for first-time drug offenses.
Soccer's world governing body says it disagrees with WADA over an automatic two-year ban because it's legally problematic not to take into account the extent of the offender's guilt.
Any sport not conforming to WADA's code risks being omitted from the Olympics. In November, both sides asked CAS to give an advisory opinion on the dispute.
''As an association governed by Swiss law, FIFA is free, within the limits of mandatory Swiss law, to determine such sanctions on anti-doping violations as it deems appropriate," CAS said in its 70-page ruling.
CAS, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, said FIFA could ''establish lower minimum sanctions than provided by the WADC."
FIFA, which has its headquarters in Zurich, welcomed the ruling that its doping provisions were fully in line with Swiss law and complied with the anti-doping code ''to the greatest possible extent."
''With this legal opinion, which FIFA itself sought, CAS has laid the foundations for resolving any differences that exist with regard to the World Anti-Doping Code," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.
WADA cannot sanction organizations such as FIFA, but can recommend measures to governments and national soccer associations.
The WADA code, approved by international federations and national governments, sets out uniform rules against performance-enhancing drugs across all sports and countries.