Like at every youth tournament since 2005, players at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship have been given the benefit of anti-doping education – and this year's sessions have included two important new rules and a first look at an instructional DVD following the testing at UEFA EURO 2008™.
Each of the eight teams in Germany are being given hour-long talks from Dr Mogens Kreutzfeldt from the UEFA medical committee and anti-doping panel and Caroline Thom from UEFA's anti-doping unit. The sessions have played a key role in raising awareness at underage tournaments as to the dangers posed by doping to players for both their career and health.
Thom delivers a comprehensive guide to the subject, starting with the definition of doping, UEFA's stance and the players' personal responsibilities towards it. The young footballers are shown just how much anti-doping activities have increased since UEFA began testing 30 years ago and told when they might be asked to give urine sample.
The two new rules that have come into effect this year include an increase in the minimum amount of urine needed for a valid sample – rising from 75ml to 90ml in accordance with WADA regulations. Second, the urine has to reach a suitable 'specific gravity' which means it cannot be too diluted. Throughout the session, Thom makes the players aware of what they are required to do and what they need to be aware of.
Dr Kreutzfeldt then takes over to discuss the prohibited list, detailing exactly what substances would result in a ban for the players. He explains how taking food supplements and even some common medicines could result in sanctions. What was important to remember, he stressed, is that professional footballers could not take any medicine or substance available from a pharmacy – like a normal member of the public – and expect it to be off the prohibited list. The main message: if you are in any doubt, check with your club or national team doctor.
The dangers of doping are then outlined to the assembled players with the many harmful side-effects highlighted. To finish the session, Thom presents a new DVD featuring the anti-doping efforts at UEFA EURO 2008™ focusing on the procedure of post-match testing, blood and urine collection and using the group game between France and Romania as a case study. After all the teams had undergone the session, Thom held an open quiz helping further ingrain the message that doping can not only be disastrous for a footballer's career, but his or her health as well.
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