Everyone is hard at work at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Accredited Laboratory at the Institute of Sport in Warsaw as the UEFA EURO 2012 anti-doping activities swing into another gear. In fact, the hard work has been in progress for some time.
UEFA's extensive UEFA EURO 2012 pre-tournament out-of-competition anti-doping programme involved blood and urine samples being collected from all 16 participating teams at key points during their preparations, with subsequent analysis being carried out by laboratory director Dorota Kwiatkowska and her team in Warsaw.
Now the in-competition programme is operational for the final round in Poland and Ukraine. All 31 matches will be subject to controls, while teams and players may be subject to no-notice testing in rest periods between matches.
During UEFA EURO 2012, four samples after each match will be taken by UEFA's doping control officers (DCOs). "They must reach the laboratory as soon as possible, preferably within 12 hours, and our laboratory has 24 hours to release the result," said Andrzej Pokrywka, director of the Institute of Sport.
The Warsaw laboratory is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its staff can count on the help of specialists from the laboratories in Lausanne (Switzerland) and Seibersdorf (Austria) that were deployed at UEFA EURO 2008. Poland's government has also provided excellent support to the laboratory, which has been able to procure new high-quality equipment. Dr Kwiatkowska and her team are doing excellent work, thanks in no small part to the training assistance given by world renowned expert Martial Saugy.
"In football, the number of positive cases is relatively small," said UEFA anti-doping and medical project manager Caroline Thom. "We have two to three cases a year. That's less than when we started our anti-doping programme, and this is also the effect of [UEFA] education activities."
The chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, Dr Michel d'Hooge, emphasises UEFA's "zero tolerance" approach to doping. He was therefore able to give satisfying news of the pre-competition tests (ten players from each of the 16 teams tested), announcing that all samples collected from ten players in each of the 16 teams were reported the same day to be negative. In addition, the hematological and hormonal profiles from the analysis conducted in all the samples show that there is absolutely no prevalence of blood or hormonal manipulation among players participating in the competition. The same conclusion was reached after pre-competition testing at the UEFA EURO 2008 final tournament, when 160 players from all teams were also tested.
Following the visit to the Warsaw laboratory, the 12 doping dontrol officers were briefed on the procedures and rules to follow to ensure a harmonised approach during this tournament.
To close on an important factor – UEFA's EURO 2012 anti-doping programme is fully supported by all participating teams, whose team doctors have signed an anti-doping charter to confirm their commitment to promoting clean football among their teams and players. UEFA and the participating teams are aiming to achieve the objective of a successful and drug-free UEFA EURO 2012.
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