Players participating at the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship are not only gaining valuable experience on the pitch in France but have also been attending educational presentations as part of UEFA's anti-doping campaign.
The eight finalists are each attending one-hour sessions led by Caroline Thom of UEFA's anti-doping unit and Dr Jacques Liénard, president of the UEFA's anti-doping panel, continuing the programme that was first introduced at the men's U19 finals three years ago and now features at all youth final tournaments and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The presentation aims to raise awareness, informing players of the dangers that are posed by doping to both their careers and their health, as well as taking them step-by-step through the procedure for a doping control in competition.
Thom starts the sessions by defining doping, reiterating UEFA's stance on the issue – with a possible ban of two years for a first offence – and outlining the reasons why European football's govering body is against doping. "By taking prohibited substances you are cheating supporters, your team-mates, opponents, friends and family, and you also risk doing harm to your body," she explained. The players are then made aware of their own responsibilities, with Thom saying: "You must know exactly what you are consuming because you and only you are responsible for everything that can be found in your body."
Dr Liénard offers the women a detailed explanation of UEFA's in-competition doping procedure, from the moment the players are notified that they are required for a control through to how a sample is collected and then the documentation that has to be completed. The names of the prohibited substances are listed and players are warned that even common medicines could be banned and, whether they have been taken unknowingly or not, the sanctions remain the same.
He goes on to explain that certain medicines are permitted in the event of illness or injury with a therapeutic-use exemption certificate, provided the correct protocol is followed. The sessions conclude with a reminder of how UEFA has stepped up its anti-doping drive in recent years, with more out-of-competition tests in the UEFA Champions League than ever. A video is then shown featuring the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Peter Schmeichel, Didier Deschamps and Henrik Larsson stressing the dangers of doping, with UEFA President Michel Platini adding: "Don't take drugs – they won't make you a better player."
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