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FIFA’s approach to doping in football


Background and objectives: FIFA’s anti-doping strategy relies on education and prevention. A worldwide network of physicians guarantees doping control procedures that are straightforward and leave no place for cheating. FIFA actively acknowledges its responsibility to protect players from harm and ensure equal chances for all competitors by stringent doping control regulations, data collection of positive samples, support of research, and collaboration with other organisations. This article aims to outline FIFA’s approach to doping in football.

Method: Description of FIFA’s doping control regulations and procedures, statistical analysis of FIFA database on doping control, and comparison with data obtained by WADA accredited laboratories as for 2004.

Results: Data on positive doping samples per substance and confederation/nation documented at the FIFA medical office from 1994 to 2005 are provided. According to the FIFA database, the incidence of positive cases over the past 11 years was 0.12%, with about 0.42% in 2004 (based on the assumption of 20 750 samples per year) and 0.37% in 2005. Especially important in this regard is the extremely low incidence of the true performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and stimulants. However, there is a need for more consistent data collection and cross checks among international anti-doping agencies as well as for further studies on specific substances, methods, and procedures. With regard to general health impairments in players, FIFA suggests that principles of occupational medicine should be considered and treatment with banned substances for purely medical reasons should be permitted to enable players to carry out their profession. At the same time, a firm stand has to be taken against suppression of symptoms by medication with the aim of meeting the ever increasing demands on football players.

Conclusion: Incidence of doping in football seems to be low, but much closer collaboration and further investigation is needed with regard to banned substances, detection methods, and data collection worldwide.

  • DCO, doping control officer
  • EPO, erythropoietin
  • FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • F-MARC, FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre
  • hGH, human growth hormone
  • IOC, International Olympic Committee
  • TUE, therapeutic use exemption
  • UEFA, Union of European Football Associations
  • WADA, World Anti-Doping Agency
  • anti-doping strategy
  • prohibited substances
  • therapeutic use exemptions
  • sanctions
  • occupational medicine

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