UEFA's doping control officers (DCOs) have met in Nyon to discuss a catalogue of issues which have an impact on their jobs, as UEFA continues its concerted campaign against drug-taking in football.
In and out-of-competition controls
The 45 DCOs are medical doctors who perform in and out-of-competition controls at matches in all UEFA tournaments. They have a key role to play in UEFA's campaign, which has seen the creation of an anti-doping panel and anti-doping unit within the body, as well as the introduction of a comprehensive programme with increased doping controls, out-of-competition testing and a concerted educational effort – especially vis-à-vis young footballers – to warn that drug-taking will not be tolerated within the sport.
The chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, Dr Michel D'Hooghe, opened the meeting by recalling that doping controls began in football at the start of the 1970s, and that sports medicine had become an essential component within football's evolution. "Today, in the world of prevention, UEFA and FIFA are making great efforts in taking care of the health of players. I am sure you will continue to be good ambassadors of UEFA [in your work], and it is indeed positive that so much is 'negative'."
The chairman of UEFA's anti-doping panel, Dr Jacques Liénard, welcomed the chance for the DCOs to talk about their work, which he said remained of the highest quality. He said it was important for all DCOs to be on the same wavelength, as this would help maintain their professional performance. No chance, he said, should be given to those players who tried to cheat through drug-taking.
The reinforced UEFA anti-doping programme is in full progress. The seminar heard a report on doping controls at UEFA EURO 2008™, where all doping tests were negative (click here for further information). "EURO was a great success in terms of the work undertaken by the DCOs, co-operation with the anti-doping laboratories and excellent support from the national anti-doping organisations in the two host countries, Austria and Switzerland," said Dr Liénard.
Increase in activities
The DCOs were briefed on UEFA anti-doping activities over the past decade. In the 2007/08 campaign, 2,027 in and out-of-competition doping controls were conducted in all UEFA competitions, including the UEFA EURO 2008™ final tournament, as well as at youth, women's and futsal events. EPO – the substance deployed to increase endurance, recuperation and physical strength – was analysed in 1,515 samples. A total of 637 out-of-competition controls were conducted, representing around a third of the doping controls during the whole season. Two players tested positive and were subsequently sanctioned.
In the current season, 566 players have been tested in-competition so far, including 255 for EPO. Out-of-competition tests on 285 players from the 32 teams taking part in the UEFA Champions League have been carried out so far.
UEFA introduced new anti-doping regulations at the start of the new year, in the wake of the issuing of a new World Anti-Doping Code and new International Standards by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). (Click here to read about anti-doping procedure changes.) The seminar discussed the impact of the new regulations on the DCOs' operations, as well as the effects of the new WADA Code and new WADA Prohibited List 2009 on football.
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