UEFA's anti-doping panel has held its latest meeting at the House of European Football in Nyon, and has underlined its determination that doping should be eliminated from football.
The panel, chaired by Dr Jacques Liénard, discussed a wide range of activities as part of its remit to promote, coordinate and monitor UEFA's extensive anti-doping campaign, and took the opportunity to look back in particular at UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine this summer, while also setting the course for the future.
UEFA's anti-doping strategy for UEFA EURO 2012 resulted in a drug-free tournament that complemented the memorable play on the field. A comprehensive pre-tournament out-of-competition testing programme involving all 16 teams was followed by a full in-competition programme during the final round. At each doping control, before and during the tournament, blood and urine samples were collected by UEFA from players from the 16 teams, and all samples were analysed for substances such as EPO and human growth hormone.
The result – no positive tests – was welcomed by the panel. "UEFA EURO 2012 was crowned by success, and we must all be extremely satisfied with the work undertaken," said Dr Liénard, chairing his last meeting of the panel. The preparation work undertaken ahead of the final round had made its mark – the 16 teams were fully informed of what to expect, meetings were held with team doctors at a workshop in March, and all the 16 team doctors signed a charter pledging a EURO free of doping.
Turning to the other UEFA competitions, the panel heard that 1,941 samples had been collected in total in the 2011/12 season – 1,485 in-competition and 456 out-of-competition, with 909 analysed for EPO. There were five positive test cases. This season, no positive results had been recorded from 991 samples collected so far – 763 in competition and 228 out of competition.
Considerable emphasis is being placed by UEFA on its educational drive to warn young footballers – male and female – of the dangers of doping, the use of recreational drugs, or being caught out by unintentionally taking a banned substance, thereby endangering a career before it has even got off the ground. Anti-doping education sessions at youth tournaments are still proving their worth, and UEFA has fine-tuned its presentations in terms of scope and timing, to ensure that the messages that players need to know get across.
In addition, almost 25,000 player leaflets warning against doping are sent to all UEFA national associations and clubs in UEFA competitions at the start of each season. There is one leaflet for every player in each national and club team.
The UEFA.com Training Ground section is also providing an invaluable source of advice and knowledge. UEFA takes great pains to emphasise why it is opposed to doping: the values of Respect; creating a level playing field; protecting football's image; and protecting footballers' health.
Dr Liénard took the opportunity to look back at UEFA's anti-doping activities since 2005/06 – a period when doping controls at UEFA matches began to increase significantly, and which also coincided with the launch of UEFA's anti-doping unit within the European body's administration. Over the years, drug tests had been extended from EUROs and the major club competitions to include women's, youth and futsal competitions.
"We cannot say that football is free of doping, as there are still positive cases," he reflected, before handing over the baton to the future anti-doping panel chairman Dr Mogens Kreutzfeld. "It is important that UEFA remains vigilant in its fight against doping and all products that are associated with doping."
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