UEFA's doping control officers heard at their latest annual seminar that digital random player selection for doping tests is being introduced at UEFA matches in the coming season.
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Digital random player selection for doping tests will be a new innovation in doping control procedures at UEFA matches in the coming season.
The new procedure was explained to UEFA’s 56 doping control officers (DCOs) at their annual gathering in Nyon – an event aimed at briefing and updating the DCOs on the various aspects of their vital role within European football.
UEFA continues to place high priority on the fight against doping in the game, and its doping control officers collect an average of 3,200 samples every year in all of UEFA’s competitions.
The DCOs also underwent their annual reassessment and reaccreditation - thereby ensuring that all tests conducted in UEFA competitions are in line with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) International Standards, fully harmonised and of the highest quality.
The implementation of a digital random player selector and amendments to the draw process were the key items on the Nyon agenda.
Last season saw the introduction of digital doping control forms at all UEFA tests, which has improved the sample collection process for both DCOs and players.
During the seminar, UEFA’s anti-doping team explained to the DCOs that the system has been developed to become a full doping control solution, in which targets for testing can be randomly selected.
For the majority of UEFA tests, targets are selected for intelligent testing. However, if this procedure is not deployed, the digital system will automatically select two players from each team, based on the team sheet submitted before the match.
The DCOs were told that the new random selection system will mean a much quicker, easier draw process for them and the teams.
During their work, DCOs must communicate effectively with everyone from volunteers to players. Last year’s seminar included a communications workshop that introduced different types of communication styles.
At the latest seminar, UEFA anti-doping team members developed this concept, emphasising to the DCOs how UEFA expects them to deliver chaperone and team representative briefings, as well as support young players through the doping control process.
They explained the importance of DCOs tailoring their briefings in accordance with the experience of the player, especially in the case of a player’s first test, when they may need guidance through the doping control process to clearly understand what they need to do.
Dr Hans Geyer, director of the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne, was also invited to Nyon to present the latest developments in anti-doping science and outline potential doping risks for players, including the use of supplements, contaminated meat, Chinese medicine and coca tea.
In addition to hearing about developments in procedure and science, the DCOs also underwent written and practical assessments.
The practical assessments included testing their ability to deal with unexpected situations during a mission, as well as collecting samples when under pressure from a difficult player.
The annual seminar is used to formally reaccredit the DCOs, so it is crucial that their understanding of UEFA procedures, WADA standards and ability to flawlessly collect samples is fully checked.