Fight against doping to be stepped up
The fight against doping in football is to be intensified. The FIFA Sports Medical Committee, whose efforts to combat doping have the backing of the FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and the Executive Committee of football’s world governing body, will decide on the introduction of new measures at its upcoming meeting in Bruges (Belgium) on 6 October.
"All doping tests carried out at this year’s FIFA competitions, namely at the World Youth Championship in Nigeria, the Women’s World Cup in the USA and the Confederations Cup in Mexico proved negative" said Committee Chairman, Dr. Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium). "But we must not let this satisfactory outcome deter us from sustaining our efforts to ensure that football is not afflicted with doping. On the contrary, we have to contemplate what additional measures can be applied to this end."
One of the possibilities is to conduct out-of-competition tests, a procedure which has, in principle, already been authorised by the FIFA executive. Working in unison with UEFA, it is intended to carry out a control of this kind as a pilot project at the training camps of the teams preparing for the 2000 European Championship. The FIFA Sports Medical Committee and UEFA will also be discussing what further steps can be taken in this project at a specially convened meeting also due to be held on 6 October in Bruges.
FIFA will furthermore be considering whether the latest developments as regards prohibited substances warrant the introduction of blood tests and, if so, how they can be feasibly implemented. Blood tests have up to now been avoided due to the legal implications and the fact that no wholly reliable test procedure was available.
FIFA anticipates working in close collaboration with the International Olympic Committee for the doping control at the Olympic Football Tournaments, Sydney 2000. The Sydney Local Organising Committee has submitted FIFA a proposal whereby doping tests will be carried out at 11 of the total 48 matches in the men’s and women’s tournaments. But FIFA has already basically decided that tests will be carried out from now on at all the final competition matches in FIFA championships, including the imminent U-17-World Championship in New Zealand from 10 to 27 November 1999.
FIFA nonetheless emphasises the prime importance of education and prevention to work alongside measures to intensify testing procedures and impose sanctions. According to this philosophy of combatting the problem at its source, FIFA has launched a large scale information campaign on doping issues within the framework of its medical research programme, known as F-MARC. The basis of this programme, which was launched in 1995 and which will be a further topic of discussion at the meeting in Bruges, is a long-term medical study involving over 600 football players of varying ages and categories.
The F-MARC information campaign mainly targets young players and teaches them the basics of healthy nutrition, ideal training methods and ethical behaviour. Regular checks on the general state of health and the injuries and illnesses of all the participants in this study will also help in pinpointing the game’s major hazards and how they can be avoided. This constant influx of information will be imparted to coaches, referees, administrators and sports physicians at FIFA courses.