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A doping-free celebration of football

The FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 held from 30 June to 22 July was a doping-free celebration of football, as no positive tests were produced in the 52 matches of the competition. Lots were drawn, in accordance with the FIFA Doping Control Regulations, to determine the two players per team per match who were to provide urine samples for testing, and a second random draw was conducted to decide which of these four samples from each match would also be tested for erythropoietin (EPO). In total, 208 urine samples were analysed and screened for prohibited substances by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Montreal, with 52 of them also being tested for EPO, and there were no positive results.
In the lead-up to the event, the FIFA Sports Medical Committee and the FIFA medical office discussed the possibility of conducting blood testing with specialists from the WADAaccredited laboratory in Lausanne (Switzerland). The consensus was that, for single samples, current blood testing technology would not have offered any more information than urine analysis. Therefore, as was the case for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, FIFA decided not to use blood testing in Canada.
“The cooperation of the players and the team officials has been excellent,” said Dr Rudy Gittens, who acted both as FIFA and Local Organising Committee General Medical Officer. “Some of these young players were being tested for the first time, so we explained the procedure to them and answered all their questions on doping,” he added.
This kind of on-site education of players by FIFA doping control officers, all of whom are qualified doctors, is a very important part of FIFA’s anti-doping strategy, which focuses on education and prevention. This year, the FIFA medical office has published a great deal of information on this subject, primarily for players, on its official website. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, invited as an observer to the matches in Ottawa, stated that FIFA’s procedure is a model for cooperation between leading international sports federations and established antidoping organisations. “The athletes’ respect and professionalism during the doping control mirrored the same qualities that FIFA exemplifies as an international federation,” wrote Joseph de Pencier, Director of Ethics & Anti-Doping Services/General Counsel, in a letter of appreciation.
Since 1994,4,183 samples have been tested during FIFA competitions, with four positive cases (a 0.1% incidence rate), three of them in FIFA final competitions and one in a qualifying match for a FIFA competition.