Fight against doping in football
© FIFA.com

FIFA has a clear vision: to keep football free of doping. It is FIFA’s duty to protect players from harm and ensure that footballers can compete on an even playing field. Since FIFA is dealing with ambitious and independent individuals, its anti-doping strategy relies on education and prevention. FIFA respects the dignity and private life of each player who is subject to testing.

FIFA bases any decisions related to their anti-doping programme on the specifics of the game, scientific evidence and analysis of validated doping statistics. FIFA’s responsibility in the fight against doping is acknowledged by stringent doping control regulations, ongoing data collection and support of evidence-based research. FIFA is a reliable partner of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the much-needed worldwide collaboration to safeguard the health of athletes and the spirit of fair competition.

The total annual number of samples collected and analysed in football (according to the WADA statistics) allows the calculation of the incidence of positive samples. In total, football shows a low overall incidence of positive samples – well below 0.4% over the years (2004 0.34%, 2005 0.33%, 2006 0.32%; 2007 0.36%; 2008 0.23%).

In 2009, 32,526 doping tests were performed in football worldwide. According to the FIFA doping control database, 68 samples (0.21%) tested positive and, of these, 5 samples (0.02%) were positive for anabolic steroids. In general, cannabis and cocaine account for about 70-80% of positive test results.

Table 1 Total samples, positives samples and samples positive for anabolics in football per year

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

TOTAL SAMPLES

22‘329

23‘478

25‘727

28‘313

33‘445

32‘526

POSITIVE SAMPLES

76
(0.34%)

74
(0.32%)

89
(0.35%)

102
(0.36%)

78
(0.23%)

68
(0.21%)

ANABOLICS

9

(0,03%)

11

(0,05%)

10
(0,04%)

14
(0,05%)

6
(0,02%)

5

(0,02%)

 

The match calendar in football covers most of the year, and together with pre-season team training, this leaves individual players with breaks of only a few weeks. Elite players often compete not only on the weekend, but also during the week. In addition, they also play in different teams at national and international level, further shortening any out-of-competition (OOC) periods.

Football as a team sport has the highest athlete numbers of all sports, making effectiveness and efficiency of testing plans a condition sine qua non.

In view of numbers of players, schedule and positive tests, individual testing in football is inefficient and ineffective. Random no-advance notice team testing of elite teams at any time has more of a deterrent effect. At lower levels, education and prevention need to be the main strategic tools in football.