Referees to undergo pre-game drug screenings

Fifa medical chiefs have revealed new plans to put officials through stringent examinations to test for banned, performance-enhancing substances which are illegal for players
Referees are to be subjected to drug screenings in order to test for banned substances, Fifa has announced.

Officials are currently not tested for performance-enhancing drugs and are required only to to pass a rigorous fitness test in order to qualify for duty.

However, they are now set to come under the same rules as players, who face lengthy bans for using substances which increase performance.

Football's governing body insisted that the move is designed to show that officials should be treated as athletes in their own right.

Fifa's chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, told the Guardian: "We have to consider referees as part of the game.

"We have started to discuss this and this is something for the future which will be discussed to include possibly an anti-doping programme for referees.

"We do not have an indication that this is a problem but this is something we have to look at. The referees are a neglected population."

Michel D'Hooghe, the chairman of Fifa's medical committee, echoed those sentiments, adding: "The referee is an athlete on the field so I think he should be subjected to the same rules."