UEFA is continuing its campaign to inform young footballers about the dangers of doping and taking drugs by organising one-hour sessions for all eight of the finalists competing at the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in Belarus.
The presentations, which have taken place at every youth tournament since 2005, aim to raise awareness by informing players of the risks they are taking both to their careers and their health by consuming prohibited substances, as well as outlining exactly what constitutes anti-doping rule violation and taking the youngsters step-by-step through the procedure for a doping control in competition. The sessions are led by Dr Mogens Kreutzfeldt from the UEFA anti-doping panel and Richard Grisdale from the UEFA anti-doping unit, who also explain two new important rule changes and encourage interactivity through a series of quiz questions.
To begin with an instructional DVD is shown focusing on the testing performed at UEFA EURO 2008™, including the procedure of post-match testing, blood and urine collection. "The new anti-doping programme used at EURO 2008 was an unequivocal success and will be used as the benchmark for future competitions," Dr Kreutzfeldt said. The DVD finishes with Brazilian forward Ronaldinho juggling a ball before delivering a clear message: "Be clean – be part of my team".
Grisdale goes on to define doping and explains the important role played by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in harmonising rules and procedures. Players are informed that they can be disciplined not only for taking banned substances themselves, but also for refusing a test and assisting or encouraging somebody else to dope. The players were informed that almost 30,000 footballers were tested worldwide in 2007, with just 93 positive cases found, of which 60 per cent were related to cannabis or cocaine.
The first part of the talk is concluded by an in-depth explanation of UEFA doping control procedure, starting with the moment the players are notified that they are required for a control through to how a sample is collected. Particular attention was drawn to the two new rules: an increase in the minimum amount of urine needed for a valid sample – rising from 75ml to 90ml in accordance with WADA regulations – and the fact the urine must now reach a suitable 'specific gravity' which means it cannot be too diluted.
Dr Kreutzfeldt then discusses the prohibited list, detailing exactly what substances would result in a ban. He stresses that taking food supplements and even some common medicines could result in sanctions, explaining that footballers cannot simply take any medicine or substance available from a pharmacy – like a normal member of the public – and expect it to be off the prohibited list. The players will be held responsible if they test positive and should therefore be absolutely certain about what they consume, taking the time to check with their club or national team doctor, the UEFA anti-doping unit or their national anti-doping organisation if they have the slightest doubt.
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