By Mark Chaplin
UEFA's anti-doping programme is now in full swing - with the inaugural meeting of the new UEFA anti-doping panel the latest move forward in European football's drive against drug-taking in the game.
Panel of experts
The panel comprises UEFA medical committee members and legal, medical and laboratory experts. They are chairman Dr Jacques Liénard (France) and Dr Mogens Kreutzfeldt (Denmark), both medical committee members; Dr Martial Saugy (Switzerland), director of the anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne; Philippe Verbiest (Belgium), a member of the IOC sports law committee; Prof Jean-Luc Veuthey (Switzerland), head of drug and pharmaceutical analysis, University of Geneva; Hakan Nyberg (Sweden), anti-doping manager in the Swedish Sport Confederation; and Dr Ian Beasley (England), the Arsenal FC team doctor.
Advice and proposals
The panel is responsible, among other things, for proposing the anti-doping programme and policy to UEFA and its medical body, and to act as a review panel on various analytical findings. The panel will hold meetings two to three times a year. In addition, according to the expertise of the panel members, UEFA will seek their advice on particular subjects when the need arises.
Regulations and testing programme
At its first meeting, the panel examined next season's UEFA doping regulations, which will be presented to the UEFA Executive Committee for approval in April. Next season's testing programme was also up for discussion.
The panel joins the new UEFA anti-doping unit, which began operations in January with the immediate targets of the increased testing of players and a drive to educate them about doping and its dangers. UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson said the organisation is "at the forefront of the fight against doping". The decision to set up an anti-doping framework within UEFA was taken last September following the introduction of the World Anti-Doping Agency's new code. This came into force in January last year and was signed by FIFA five months later.
Other objectives being set by UEFA include carrying out drug tests at 20 per cent of matches in UEFA's club competitions next season, together with more testing at youth, Futsal and women's competitions. Responsible for the operation will be a team of around 25 doping control officers, none of whom will be permitted to perform tests on teams from their own country. UEFA is also planning to introduce an out-of-competition testing programme, where a pool of players would be subject to random checks during the close season.
European football's governing body is doubling its financial outlay in the sector - allocating €1.83m to the programme for 2004/05. The programme will highlight the deterrent aspect and focus on education and awareness. Players, coaches, team doctors and parents will all be targeted, especially with the protection of young players in mind.
Material and information
UEFA plans to supply material and information to clubs and national associations which will be adapted to specific age groups. Education sessions at events, workshops for team doctors and intensive media work are all proposed elements of the programme.
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