UEFA's ability to deter and detect doping in football – and its efforts to protect the game as a result – has been significantly enhanced through the implementation of steroid profiling within its comprehensive and widely respected anti-doping programme.
At its most recent meeting in Nyon, the UEFA Executive Committee followed a recommendation by the UEFA Medical Committee, and approved the introduction of what is known as the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) within the European body's anti-doping programme.
The ABP is an approved analytical technique which will help UEFA in detecting doping compared with the normal anti-doping procedures, and will first be applied in the UEFA Champions League from the start of the 2015/16 season.
A typical doping control is, among other things, based on the direct detection of a substance. While this remains an effective means of finding out whether doping has taken place, the Medical Committee felt the normal procedures were limited in relation to players who might be using substances on an intermittent and/or low-dose basis which could go undetected, even within the most efficient in or out-of-competition testing programme.
Consequently, through the ABP, doping that may not be detected by direct analysis could be shown in changes in the player's biological profile – because although the substance itself might not be directly detected, its effect on the player's profile can indicate doping.
The ABP is approved as a reliable tool by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and this reliability has been underlined through prosecutions in recent doping cases. In addition, the ABP will enable footballers to show proof that they are playing in an unaltered physiological condition, free of any suspicion of doping.
The Athlete Biological Passport is seen as a means of helping to safeguard the reputations of 'clean' players. Its introduction into the European game will bring a strong doping deterrent within football and boost the credibility of the anti-doping campaign.
"The introduction of the athlete biological passport to the UEFA Champions League shows that UEFA is leading the way in football with its anti-doping programme," says UEFA Medical Committee chairman Dr Michel D'Hooghe. "UEFA's testing programme is already one of the world's best in team sports and this will add an extra dimension to it.
"The steroidal module of the biological passport greatly increases the efficiency of urine testing," Dr D'Hooghe explains, "and so provides a very strong deterrent to doping. We are pleased that this development will help to ensure that top-level European football remains free from the scourge of doping."
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