When FIFA introduced doping controls in 1966, it was one of the first international sports governing bodies to acknowledge the problem and to introduce active measures to combat it.
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.
According to the WADA statistic, football is the sport with the highest number of doping samples with approximately 30,000 samples per year on average. The total annual number of samples collected and analysed in football allows the calculation of the incidence of positive samples. In total, football shows a low overall incidence of positive samples – well below 0.45% over the years (2011 - 0.42%, 2012 - 0.40%, 2013 - 0.29%, 2014 - 0.20%, 2015 - 0.24%).
In 2015, 32,362 doping tests were performed in football worldwide. According to the FIFA doping control database, 78 samples (0.24%) tested positive as shown in the following table.
FIFA directly handles the anti-doping programmes for all FIFA competitions and sets the anti-doping regulations that apply to all football competitions worldwide. Anti-doping controls at confederations and national levels are directly handled by the confederations, the member associations and/or the national anti-doping agencies while FIFA oversees the result management, including potential appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
Below is a report of doping tests directly performed by FIFA in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Doping tests performed by FIFA in 2013 to 2017*
Urine in competition (IC)
Urine out of competition (OOC)
Testing strategyThe 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.
FIFA has been active in developing new approaches in the fight against doping. One of the latest innovations was the introduction by FIFA of the so-called biological profile, including haematological parameters, in blood, and steroid profile, in urine. Any deviation may indicate a potential abuse of performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids or hormones and/or the manipulation of blood.
FIFA is currently establishing a database in order to monitor footballers during their professional career. Laboratory findings from different in and out of competitions controls are stored in a central database for comparison. This new strategy was launched on the occasion of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and applied to all participating players at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
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. The cost of organising, conducting, analysing and managing a single doping test is estimated at approximately USD 1,000 on average. Consequently, given the number of doping tests conducted on average each year in football globally, the current estimate for the annual cost for the fight against doping in football is approximately USD 30 million.
Figures as of 18 July 2017*