The 2014/15 season featured not only the most extensive anti-doping testing ever conducted across UEFA competitions, but the most comprehensive campaign to date.
In terms of numbers, 2,388 tests were conducted across all competitions – a significant commitment when compared with the 692 tests recorded a decade ago. However, the emphasis is on quality as much as quantity, thanks to the implementation of a new intelligence-based testing programme.
With the 2015/16 season bringing the introduction of the steroidal module of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) athlete biological passport, testing to identify potential steroid use is now being tracked across more European competitions in a coordinated manner.
Additionally, this season will see UEFA's anti-doping programme reinforced with the strengthening of rules related to team and player whereabouts, the introduction of long-term sample storage to permit the retrospective identification of prohibited substances, and the stepping up of in- and out-of-competition testing, especially in relation to UEFA EURO 2016.
By implementing a more intelligence-based testing programme, UEFA is increasing the deterrent to players, teams and clubs. Equally, UEFA recognises the need for better communication and cooperation with all stakeholders in the anti-doping process. It is with this intention that UEFA has established a formal working relationship with national anti-doping organisations to tackle doping from all angles.
To date, UEFA has signed 11 such cooperation agreements with individual national anti-doping organisations. This will allow for more harmonised test planning, reduce unnecessary duplication of testing and facilitate the sharing of information relating to player biological profiles and intelligence data to identify potential doping.
This proactive approach not only justifies UEFA's wish to remain hands-on with teams, clubs and players through both testing and education; it also allows UEFA to act as a crucial facilitator for its member associations to themselves engage with their respective national anti-doping organisations. The ambitious objective to sign cooperation agreements with all national anti-doping organisations of all 24 teams competing in UEFA EURO 2016 remains as much a priority for this season as conducting the most comprehensive pre-tournament programme ever.
The UEFA EURO 2016 anti-doping programme ensures that all players with the potential to be selected for the 24 participating teams will be subjected to testing from 1 January 2016, while the tournament itself will see advanced analytical testing implemented at each of the 51 matches.
Across its competitions, UEFA is not only being pro-active in the practical implementation of the WADA athlete biological passport in a collaborative and effective manner, but is also acting as an important catalyst for a pan-European approach, to help protect football from the doping threat at all levels for future generations.
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