The FFA’s Anti-Doping Policy complies with the National Anti-Doping Scheme administered by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA).
Any player selected for doping control will be required to provide a sample. Players may be chosen by random selection or target testing. Testing can take place anywhere at any time including after competing, at training, at home and at any other suitable area or facility.
All players have a right to have a representative present at the doping control and ask for information about the sample collection process. Players must be careful about consuming any supplements which may fall foul of the WADA Prohibited List of banned substances.
Players that require medicine for illness, disease or injury must apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use the substance for accepted purposes such as a significant impairment on their health without the use of such medication. A common TUE exemption is for asthmatics requiring prescription medication for their condition.
Sanctions for Anti-Doping Rule Violations
The sanctions contained in the new regulations are more flexible and allow for cases to be decided on an individual basis. There are more discretionary powers which are welcomed as compared to the previous regulations, which saw former Socceroos star, Stan Lazaridis, unjustly banned for 12 months for a technical infringement that ASADA acknowledged had nothing to do with the enhancement of Stan’s sporting performance:
In all cases of positive tests in international competition, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee shall be the judicial body responsible for hearing the matter and meting out sanctions, if any. Decisions of this Committee may be appealed to the FIFA Appeals Committee. Subject to the satisfaction of certain requirements, recourse against decisions made by these judicial bodies of FIFA shall be lodged with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
These sanctions are applied in similar fashion by the FFA under its Anti-Doping Policy where a domestic breach occurs.
World Anti-Doping Code 2009 – Implication for Players in International Competitions
The revised World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code came into effect on 1 January 2009 and FIFA has adopted this Code in the updated FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations. The FFA’s Anti-Doping Policy (2009) is also WADA and FIFA compliant. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is responsible for the implementation of WADA’s requirements within Australia.
FIFA conducts doping control on players both in and out of competition. 30,000 tests are conducted annually, with the number of positive tests approximately 90 per calendar year, which is an incidence rate of just 0.03%.
Almost all the positive tests are for recreational or social drugs such as marijuana and not for performance enhancing substances such as EPO or anabolic steroids. Therefore, it is clear that professional football does not face a threat from doping, as it is only a marginal problem.
This rule requires clubs and selected players to provide and update information on their whereabouts, three months in advance for out-of competition testing to ensure they can be located for testing.
FIFA has created a registered testing pool of three categories and made it compulsory for clubs and players in any of these target groups to declare their whereabouts. This scheme is currently being trialled in Europe and at selected FIFA competitions before being put into practice worldwide by the end of the year.
The first group is the FIFA International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) comprising international level players currently under suspension or suffering from long-term injuries. Players in the IRTP must provide complete individual whereabouts for possible testing.
The second category is the largest and is called the FIFA Testing Pool (TP), which are clubs and players from each confederation’s elite club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and the AFC Champions League.
The third and final category is the FIFA Pre-Competition Testing Pool, which tests the world’s current elite senior players. For 2009, the 8 participants in the FIFA Confederations Cup had to submit their team whereabouts ONLY for team activities for the two months prior to the tournament in South Africa. The 184 players (23 players per squad) were subject to 10 tests per team.
None of the tests conducted both pre and post-Confederations Cup 2009 were positive.
FIFPro has been critical of the WADA Code’s out-of competition testing, which effectively forces elite players to provide information on their location and movements for a 60 minute time period per day throughout the year. As these players are also public figures with a high profile, FIFPro is of the view that this may be an infringement of European Union privacy laws.
FIFPro is also against the liability for inaccurate filing of information and for missed tests as a player is subject to a suspension of at least 1 year if he or she made 3 filing errors and/or missed tests within an 18 month period.
The Italian Doping Case – A Common Sense Victory for the Players
In July 2009, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed the appeal from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and annulled its earlier decision to impose a one-year ban in the long-running saga involving two Serie A players, Daniele Mannini and Davide Possanzini, who were late for a doping test following a Serie A match after new evidence proved that they were held up in the dressing room for a team meeting with their coach and club president.
With the Italian anti-doping authorities asserting that the players did undergo the tests without violating any doping control rules or doing anything illegal, the CAS Panel were satisfied that the players’ delay in submitting to doping control could not be deemed to be an act of refusal or failure to provide urine and blood samples as argued by WADA.
The one-year suspension that was initially meted out by CAS was retracted and the players were given a 15 day ban, which they had already served. Mannini has moved on to Sampdoria for the new season, while Possanzini is still with Brescia.
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