The ongoing campaign to warn of the dangers of drug-taking has seen UEFA hold a series of educational sessions with the eight teams at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in the Netherlands.
Following an initial meeting with the team doctors at the start of the final round, players have watched a presentation by a member of the UEFA Medical Committee and UEFA anti-doping unit, which includes crucial information on the substances that could - even if taken unintentionally - lead to a player being banned and damaging his career.
The presentation included video extracts, in which footballing legends such as Ronaldinho, Paolo Maldini, Didier Deschamps, Sir Bobby Charlton, Peter Schmeichel and Michael Laudrup all give warnings that to take drugs is to put a career on the line. Such education sessions take place at all final rounds where young players are taking part.
At the hotel in Osterbeek, close to Arnhem, UEFA Medical Committee member Mogens Kreutzfeld and Caroline Thom, from the anti-doping unit, told the England team of their responsibilities and duties as football players. "We know that you're not cheating," said Kreutzfeld. "But suddenly you might take a food supplement or buy some medicine in a drugstore which contains a prohibited substance. So we are here to protect you."
Doping is cheating
Thom explained UEFA's attitude towards doping, either through the taking of substances contained on the WADA prohibited list, or through banned methods, such as transfusion. "Doping is cheating," she said. "It's cheating yourself, the rest of your team, your family, friends and fans. You are responsible for what you take and what is found in your body," she added, before going on to explain about UEFA's extensive testing programme, and the procedure for doping control at UEFA matches, from the set-up, to selection of players and collection of the sample, to transportation to the laboratory.
The anti-doping drive is targeting younger players, who may be susceptible to the temptation of taking recreational drugs. Even smoking a few puffs could also lead to a positive doping test. "What counts is what is in your body," Kreutzfeld said. "There is often no possibility to see if you have been cheating or whether you have made a terrible mistake. There is only one thing you can do - please be careful. Never take anything unless you have the permission of your team doctor."
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