RIO DE JANEIRO: Every player tested for drugs at the World Cup in Brazil has been cleared of doping after more than 1,000 tests came back negative, FIFA’s medical committee announced yesterday.
Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s chief medical officer, told a news conference at the Maracana that every player on each of the 32 competing teams - 736 players in total - had provided blood and urine samples.
Dvorak said 777 out-of-competition tests were conducted between March 1 and June 11 plus another 232, four from each of the first 58 matches played in Brazil, since the tournament kicked off on June 12, and all came back negative.
“We have not found any prohibitive substances... either prior or during competition,” Dvorak said as he spoke to the reporters at the press conference.
FIFA said players from the four remaining teams left in the tournament would be subject to further random testing with the results expected before their team’s next game.
The samples have all been flown across the Atlantic Ocean to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s laboratory in Switzerland after WADA revoked the accreditation of the drug-testing facility in Rio for failing to comply with international standards.
The last time a player was caught doping at a World Cup was in 1994 when Argentina’s Diego Maradona tested positive for ephedrine and was sent home in disgrace.
Soccer has long viewed itself as largely immune from the use of performance enhancing drugs which has badly tarnished other sports such as cycling.
Even yesterday, Michel D’Hoogie, the chairman of FIFA’s Medical Committee, said he did not think the use of performance enhancing drugs was widespread in the game.
“I will never say there is no doping in football, but I say there is no doping culture in football,” D’Hoogie told reporters at news conference.
FIFA has steadily stepped up its drug testing procedures over recent years, including the introduction of biological profiling of players to track changes in their blood samples.
In conjunction with WADA, FIFA began building profiles on players in 2011 but this is the first time it has used it at the World Cup.
WADA’s director general, David Howman, applauded FIFA for its tougher stance in a video that was shown at yesterday’s news conference.
“Hats off to FIFA,” said delighted Howman.