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The fight against doping in sport receives considerable media interest and results in much speculation regarding the ability of athletes to compete on a level playing field. Football was one of the sports that took early leadership in this fight when the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) introduced doping controls in football in 1970 as part of a wider strategy to ensure that the results of representative matches were a fair reflection of the ability of those taking part.
As a result of the collaborative effort between FIFA and regional confederations and their member associations in conjunction with national anti-doping organisations, more than 20 000 doping controls are performed annually on football players. The overall incidence of positive doping samples for prohibited substances accounts for 0.4% of all tests. Most of the positive drug tests are due to cannabis and cocaine, the so-called social drugs. Only a few individual cases (0.07% of the positive tests in 2004) were positive for anabolic steroids, such as nandrolone and testosterone.
The majority of doping controls have been carried out in competition. FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and some of the national anti-doping organisations also perform unannounced, out-of-competition controls at training venues during the football season. Prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup being held in Germany, unannounced doping controls have been performed in the friendly matches between nations. Doping controls have also been performed during the training camps prior to the opening match on 9 June 2006. All tests to date have proved negative. UEFA has also performed unannounced testing in the 2005–06 football season in all of the teams participating in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup. Ten players were randomly selected from each of the 38 European top professional teams and were subjected to testing. No …