WADA was surprised and concerned to read the statement issued on March 24 by the world and European football governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, in relation to universally harmonized whereabouts requirements that took effect on January 1, 2009.
Under the 2009 International Standard for Testing, which was unanimously approved in May 2008 by WADA’s Executive Committee (including representatives of International Sports Federations), the limited number of top elite athletes included in an International Federation or National Anti-Doping Organization registered testing pool must indicate one hour a day during which they can be tested at a specified location. The new Standard also provides team sports with the opportunity of submitting the whereabouts of their relevant athletes on a collective basis as part of team activities. This specific point was the result of requests from and extensive consultation with team sports, including FIFA, and was specifically made to accommodate team sports.
Under the Standard, the one-hour time-slot indicated by the athlete or his/her team can include any location, including training grounds. But the opportunity for anti-doping organizations to test athletes is not limited to the chosen one-hour time-slot and location.
“One of the key principles of efficient doping control is the surprise effect and the possibility to test an athlete without advance notice on a 365 day basis,” said WADA’s President John Fahey. “Alleging, as FIFA and UEFA do, that testing should only take place at training grounds and not during holiday periods, ignores the reality of doping in sport. Experience has demonstrated that athletes who cheat seize every opportunity to do so and dope when they believe they won’t be tested. Some substances and methods disappear quickly from the body while keeping their performance-enhancing effects. Anti-doping organizations must therefore be able to test athletes at all times in an intelligent fashion. WADA stakeholders have recognized this reality, and the feedback we have received from the overwhelming majority of other sports, but also from athletes and all those who support doping-free sport, strongly contradicts FIFA’s and UEFA’s stance.”
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