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Tiny nation of Qatar wants to be global sports power

Tiny nation of Qatar wants to be global sports power
Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 5, 2010. (Ian Langsdon / European Pressphoto Agency)

Qatar may have been a controversial choice for the 2022 World Cup but the small Persian Gulf nation is nevertheless pushing ahead with its campaign to become a big player on the international sports scene.

Government officials announced Tuesday that the nation will contribute $1 million toward international research headed by the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The money is to go toward developing techniques for catching cheaters using performance-enhancing drugs.

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"Qatar is first and foremost a sporting nation," said Sheik Saoud bin Abdulrahman al Thani, secretary-general of the nation's Olympic committee.

The donation comes about a week after the oil-rich nation beat out Eugene, Ore., to host the 2019 world track-and-field championships.

Qatar's donation answers a call from the IOC, which initiated the move for more anti-doping research by pledging $10 million for the effort and asking for matching gifts.

New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. had previously stepped forward with pledges.

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