More anti-doping information has helped the fight against drugs in football – that was the message in the series of educational presentations to the eight teams taking part in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Turkey.
The sessions were led by UEFA anti-doping panel member Dr Mogens Kreutzfeldt and anti-doping specialist Marc Vouillamoz, carrying on a programme that began at the U19 finals in Northern Ireland in 2005 and that now continues at all youth tournaments and the UEFA European U21 Championship. The aim of these events is to educate players in the dangers of doping, to make them aware of the doping traps, in order to protect their careers and their health, and to talk them through the procedure for a doping control in competition.
Vouillamoz said: "It is obvious that the amount of positive cases is decreasing. There were seven cases in the 2005/06 season; a year after the number was only three. The doping control proves to be a deterrent. However, we urge the U17 players to be careful and keep away from doping, because there were positive tests for social drugs from two players who competed in the European U17 Championship in 2006 and two others in the European U19 Championship. In my opinion, players need more information at this age and we have to be sure that we have informed them about the danger and the risks before any case arises."
He started each session with a definition of doping and reiterates UEFA's stance on the issue, with a possible ban of two years for a first offence. "Doping is cheating yourself, your team, your fans, friends and family," Vouillamoz said. "You are responsible for what is in your body and you will be considered to have committed the offence, even if this was by mistake. Once you tested positive, it is extremely difficult for a player to prove that it was unintentional."
Players, some of whom were tested during the finals, were given a full rundown of UEFA's in-competition doping procedure – from the moment they are notified that they are required for a doping control, through to how a sample is collected and then the documentation that has to be completed, among other things. They were also told how players have been sanctioned for causing trouble during doping controls, and it is underlined that they should remain calm in these situations.
Meanwhile, Dr Kreutzfeldt ran through the prohibited substances, warning players that common medicines can contain such substances and that the sanctions remain the same. "Be very careful," he said. "We have no way of knowing if you're cheating or if you have made a terrible mistake. You are the one who pays the price if there is a problem."
Dr Kreutzfeldt also discussed the importance of caution regarding food supplements, stressing the dangers of contamination, and also talked about recreational drugs. "There's a serious health risk if you take illegal substances," he said, before explaining that certain medicines are permitted in the event of illness. A video is also shown featuring the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Paolo Maldini and Peter Schmeichel warning players of the dangers of doping, with UEFA President Michel Platini adding: "Don't take drugs, they won't make you a better player."
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