More drug tests needed in football, says WADA chief

The World Anti-Doping Agency last night urged football to carry out more blood doping tests and use intelligence operations to unmask cheating players.

Ahead of a meeting with Fifa President Sepp Blatter tomorrow, Wada expressed concern that not enough is being done to discover if players are using blood-booster EPO. Wada President John Fahey said: “Football is not testing enough for EPO. They can do more and we are encourage them to do more.”

Last week, Spain’s anti-doping agency announced that it was examining claims by a former president of Spanish top league team Real Sociedad that its players used performance-enhancing substances.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

And, one of the world’s leading coaches, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, also claimed that doping tests must be more extensive.

“If you asked whether every team in the Premier League had been tested four times in a year, I think you know what the answer would be,” Wada Director General David Howman said at a briefing in London. “Team sports players can go their entire career without being tested. There’s a programme that should be taken up by all team sports.”

Fahey questioned why the use of biological passports in football is so limited, with only Fifa starting to use them for players at its competitions in the last two years.

For the passports, players provide samples to help laboratories prepare their individual steroid profiles.

Players then selected for anti-doping controls have their results measured against out-of-competition tests taken up to one month earlier. “We now know that the athlete’s biological passport is a very effective tool. Why isn’t football using it? They can,” Fahey said. “It would make it more effective, but I also recognise that all of this costs money.”

Fahey also urged football to use “intelligence” after highlighting its importance to a case against Lance Armstrong being built up by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

He said: “All Nados [national anti-doping agencies] should examine the way Usada used intelligence to build the case against Armstrong, and to implement similar components into their anti-doping programmes so that they can undertake investigations with Wada’s guidance.”

That can help to prevent people coming up with “new and more cunning ways to cheat,” Fahey argued. “We need to be ever alert to the increasingly sophisticated science available to athletes today,” he added.