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Feb 13, 2013

WADA: Football needs better doping tests

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey has said football is not doing enough to test for the use of banned substances.

Performance-enhancing drugs like EPO have been attracting intense media attention in recent months in the wake of the cycling scandal and, more recently, the revelations of widespread use in a number of Australian sports.

There have also been indications of use in football. Former Real Sociedad president Inaki Badiola claimed the club had made use of Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor currently on trial for doping charges in Spain, while there have been claims from cyclists that the game is far from clean.

In the 2011-12 season, UEFA tested more than 2,200 players across its tournaments - including Euro 2012, the Champions League and Europa League - while the English FA carried out 1,278 tests last year and FIFA conducted 662 urine tests, with 95 of those testing for EPO.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently said he had asked UEFA to consider blood testing to help identify any problems, and Fahey stressed that more must be done.

"I simply say this about football - they are not testing enough for EPO," he said. "They could do more and we encourage them to do more.

"While testing is a good deterrent factor and may be an effective way of catching people, I would argue that we now know that the athletes' biological passport [an electronic dossier showing results of doping tests] is a very effective tool. Why isn't football using it? They can. In my view, it would make them more effective."

WADA director general David Howman agrees that football must improve its approach to the matter, citing the strides forward made by Major League Baseball.

Howman said: "You have got to start with a quality programme. Football can then stand up and say: 'We don't have a problem because we have checked for it properly and fully.'

"Each player on a Major League Baseball team will be tested at least four times a year. Now ask whether any Premier League team has every player in the squad tested four times a year. I think we all know what the answer is. This initiative by MLB ought to be taken up by others."

Howman also said some athletes were travelling to remote areas where their drug use would not be monitored.

"They go offshore to train in countries where they feel they cannot be located and tested," he added. "We have to shut that down as much as we can."

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