The UEFA anti-doping panel has again underlined its determination to help fight doping in football at its latest meeting at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The panel, chaired by Dr Jacques Liénard, discussed its various activities in promoting, coordinating and monitoring UEFA's anti-doping campaign, with particular emphasis being given at the most recent gathering to preparations for UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine next summer.
Logistical matters for the doping control programme and the training of chaperones – who are responsible for bringing players to the control after matches – were on the agenda, as well as the work being undertaken to ensure that doping control stations will meet the necessary specifications at the eight tournament venues: Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw (Poland) and Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv (Ukraine).
The panel looked back at the UEFA EURO 2008 drug-testing activities – none of the 124 players who underwent doping controls at the 31 matches in Austria and Switzerland, nor any of the 160 tested out-of-competition in the build-up to the tournament, tested positive – and the hope was expressed for a similar successful outcome at UEFA EURO 2012.
In addition, talks focused on the new whereabouts procedures – whereby clubs have to provide information on the whereabouts of their players – which were put in place at the beginning of this season in relation to out-of-competition testing. The panel welcomed positive developments in the procedures, which lay down tougher sanctions for repeated infringements, and the fact that clubs were now showing improvement in submitting whereabouts information on time. The new procedures, the panel heard, had brought about a greater respect of the rules compared with last season.
The testing programme for 2009/10 came under review. Last season, 1,710 doping controls were conducted in all UEFA competitions, including youth and women's. Of that number, more than 1,300 controls were carried out in Europe's two major club competitions. Four positive cases were recorded. So far in the 2010/11 campaign, over 1,200 doping controls have been effected in all UEFA competitions, with only one positive case.
The UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations, 2011 edition were approved, and now require final ratification by the UEFA Executive Committee in March before they come into force in May this year. The new regulations take into account the 2011 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances as well as the new whereabouts procedures.
UEFA has been holding anti-doping education sessions at its youth tournaments for some time now. The panel stressed the importance of such sessions, in which the participants at youth championships are informed not only about the various facets of UEFA's anti-doping campaign, and the procedures for the anti-doping controls that take place throughout all UEFA competitions, but also about the dangers of doping and what it could mean for their careers. The message was clear – young players can be particularly vulnerable to drug and substance-related problems, so the younger they are advised, the more chance they have of avoiding difficulties in this area.
Finally, the anti-doping educational drive has been expanded on the UEFA Training Ground section of UEFA.com, and cooperation is being stepped up with world football's governing body FIFA. UEFA has teamed up with FIFA to create a version of the same module which will soon be available on FIFA's website, FIFA.com. The anti-doping panel greeted this example of cooperation as part of a harmonised educational approach from international football bodies.
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