UEFA's comprehensive anti-doping strategy for UEFA EURO 2012 made sure that, as well as being a successful tournament on the field of play, it was also a drug-free one.
UEFA's persistent efforts to combat doping in football continue to reap handsome rewards – with the recent UEFA EURO 2012 tournament the latest example of the sterling work being undertaken by all those with football's best interests at heart.
A drug-free EURO was the excellent result – a tribute to the players and medical staffs of the teams who took part in Poland and Ukraine, as well as UEFA's anti-doping team of administrators, experts and doping control officers (DCOs).
In this video, we look at the UEFA EURO 2012 doping control activities and the hard graft that goes into the procedure from start to finish.
The EURO anti-doping initiative consisted of a comprehensive pre-tournament out-of-competition testing programme with a full in-competition programme during the tournament. Players were tested for the widest available range of potential doping substances.
At each doping control before and during the championship, blood and urine samples were collected by UEFA from players from the 16 teams at all doping controls. Tests were carried out by UEFA's DCOs, comprising medical doctors from throughout Europe. Analysis of samples was conducted at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Warsaw, according to an advanced analytical menu designed by experts from Europe's top anti-doping laboratories. This included screening for substances such as EPO and human growth hormone.
Ten players per team were tested during the out-of-competition programme and two players per team after each match. Tournament samples were analysed within 48 hours of receipt by the laboratory to ensure that all results were known before a side's next UEFA EURO 2012 game. No prohibited substances were detected in either the in-competition or the pre-tournament out-of-competition programme.
"The main aim of the UEFA anti-doping programme is to keep the tournament free of doping, to protect the game and also to protect the health of the players," said Marc Vouillamoz, head of UEFA's anti-doping and medical unit. "It is extremely important to have a very deterrent testing programme, because we want to give no chance to anyone, any player who would like to take advantage by taking prohibited substances."
The success of the strategy was also helped by the contribution of players, teams and medical staff to whereabouts, doping control procedures and the anti-doping effort in general. All team medical staff signed an anti-doping charter before the finals to underline their commitment to guaranteeing a drug-free championship, and all players selected for doping controls proved fully cooperative with the process both in and out of competition.
"They have all been very cooperative," said Vouillamoz. "All players have behaved in a correct manner. But this is again because we have invested a lot of time and resources into educating the players, educating the teams, telling them that such an anti-doping programme is justified within the frame of a tournament like EURO."