The UEFA anti-doping panel reiterated its ceaseless commitment to the fight against doping in European football during a busy meeting at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on Wednesday and Thursday.
The panel, sitting for the first time since March 2009, discussed its various activities in promoting, coordinating and monitoring UEFA's anti-doping campaign, with particular emphasis placed on out-of-competition testing and future testing programme strategies. Notwithstanding its dedication to constantly revising its procedures, the 12-man panel, headed by Dr Jacques Liénard, stressed the merits of UEFA's existing anti-doping operation and approved the proposed UEFA Anti-Doping Regulations, 2010 edition.
Dr Liénard said: "For 2010 we will have the same testing programme structure, with the only difference being the addition of EURO 2012 qualifying matches. Since 2005 UEFA has shown a real commitment to anti-doping - carrying out more and more tests each year - and our focus has been the major competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. But we also give priority to the summer youth tournaments with education sessions for the players there." The work of the anti-doping panel began, in its current format, in the 2004/05 season.
A full agenda featured discussions on the UEFA testing programme strategy for 2010/11, including questions about how much testing would be required in future seasons and what proportion of this testing should be done either in or out of competition. Out-of-competition procedures for 2010/11 provided another topic for debate, as delegates spoke about the future direction of this programme. Dr Liénard was joined by members of UEFA's anti-doping unit and UEFA's disciplinary services in making presentations on these subjects as well as on guidelines for urine sampling and the issue of therapeutic use exemptions (when a player is required to take medication that falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list). The meeting was also attended by an observer from the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL).
"In conducting out-of competition tests for the 32 clubs in the UEFA Champions League last season, we carried out some 450 individual player tests," explained Dr Liénard of the unit's ever-vigilant efforts. "At the UEFA EURO 2008 final tournament we also tested blood as well as urine, and we found nothing in any of the players' blood, which was a good sign."
While the main focus for testing is the UEFA Champions League, both in and out of competition, and the UEFA Europa League, in competition, precedence is given to the UEFA youth tournaments when it comes to prevention and education. The anti-doping unit visits the national teams at every under-age UEFA European Championship - male or female - while also providing educational leaflets for all club sides in UEFA competition.
Another important piece of business was the appointment of three new members to the panel, further extending the wide base of know-how and experience that the group brings to bear on the anti-doping movement in football. Mike Earl from the English Football Association, Dr Franco Combi from FC Internazionale Milano and Dr Andrey Grishanov of the Russian Football Union will enhance what Dr Liénard described as "a good mix of people in the panel - from laboratories, federations, different sporting backgrounds such as cycling, the National Anti-Doping Organisations, plus a lawyer and a pharmacologist".
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