UEFA's doping control officers (DCOs) have met at the House of European Football in Nyon for the annual seminar which looks at their vital role in the ongoing fight against drug-taking in European football.
The 44 DCOs are medical doctors who perform in and out-of-competition controls at matches in UEFA's competitions, from the major club competitions to youth, women's and futsal tournaments. The DCOs are crucial components within UEFA's anti-doping activities.
Dr Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, welcomed the DCOs and congratulated them on their work. Dr D'Hooghe emphasised the importance of the DCOs' role in the ongoing drive against doping in sport.
The key objectives of the seminar were to ensure that DCOs have common knowledge, interpretation of rules and approach, and are given the tools to deliver professional work. In keeping with the constant desire for improvement, an important exchange of views and ideas took place, with various suggestions and recommendations put forward.
The anti-doping campaign continues to gain momentum, with doping controls on the increase and young footballers – most vulnerable to drugs – attending highly valued education sessions at European youth and women's final tournaments. The anti-doping drive is part of UEFA's medical programme led by the UEFA Medical Committee and Dr D'Hooghe.
Items on the agenda in Nyon included a review of doping controls last season, a look at developments this season and a preview of the coming campaign. In 2009/10, some 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.
Meanwhile, EPO – the substance deployed to increase endurance, recuperation and physical strength – was tested for in 1,116 samples. A total of 476 out-of-competition controls were performed, representing over a quarter of the doping controls during the whole season.
So far this term, some 1,075 players have been tested in competition, including 352 for EPO, with two positive cases recorded. In addition, 381 players have been tested out of competition, with all samples analysed for EPO and no adverse findings reported yet.
Discussions also centred on the new whereabouts procedures – whereby clubs must provide information on the whereabouts of their players – which were implemented at the start of the 2010/11 campaign in relation to out-of-competition testing. The procedures allow for tougher punishment for repeat infringements, and are aimed at creating greater discipline and respect for the rules in this area compared with last season.
The UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations, 2011 edition were approved by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in Paris in March and come into force at the end of May. The new regulations take into account the new whereabouts procedures, as well as the 2011 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances.
Plans for the UEFA EURO 2012 anti-doping programme were also covered. Work is well under way to ensure that the drug control procedures and facilities meet the correct requirements at the eight UEFA EURO 2012 venues – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw (Poland) and Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv (Ukraine). Hopes are high for a successful tournament in this sector, following the 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland when no positive cases were registered.
The seminar also featured a training session for the DCOs who have joined the team this season. Newcomers were introduced to the UEFA anti-doping programme and given instructions in UEFA doping control procedures. "Although there were so few positive cases, we should not remain indifferent," emphasised the chairman of the anti-doping panel, Dr Jacques Liénard, who called for continued vigilance in the battle to eliminate doping.
The seminar was split into afternoon and morning sessions to enable the DCOs to exchange views and experiences, while question-and-answer sessions helped both UEFA and the DCOs clarify a wide catalogue of issues affecting their duties. "Give no chances to those who cheat," was the message from Dr Liénard who, in thanking the DCOs for their flexibility and dedication, also urged them to keep their performance high in quality and professional in attitude, to avoid any problems in the doping control procedure.
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