Fifa medical chief: No doping culture in football

Michel D'Hooghe admits it would be "crazy" to suggest the problem does not exist on any level but says current positive testing statistics are evidence of football's cleanliness
The chief of Fifa's medical committee, Michel D'Hooghe, says there is "no doping culture" in professional football but admits he would be "crazy" to suggest that no doping at all exists in the game.

He also suggests that football as a discipline does not benefit from doping like other sports and that the risk of sanctions is a serious deterrent to players.

D'Hooghe's claims follow what was described as a doping-free World Cup in Brazil in which all 736 participants had their blood and urine tested.

Fifa carried out 777 tests in the run-up to the World Cup and another 232 were completed during the tournament itself, while the four semi-finalists were also subjected to random tests before the last weekend of fixtures. All came back negative.

"If you would like me to say there is no doping in football, I would be crazy," he said at the Leaders Sports Business Summit at Stamford Bridge. "What I can say is there is no doping culture in football.

"Why is there not as much doping in football as there is in other disciplines?

"First of all, football is a discipline where, besides the important physical effort, there is an important technical aspect and there is an important tactical aspect.

"Secondly, the players know they will be controlled. We are the international federation that does by far the largest number of doping controls over each year. Each year we do about 30,000 doping controls in the world.

"Thirdly, look at the World Cup in Brazil. We had preparatory meetings with the 32 team doctors asking for their collaboration and they all signed the charter that they would collaborate to a doping-free World Cup. I know this is rather symbolic but it has an important value.

"Fourthly, at all our youth competitions, we inform our youth players about the dangers of abuse of doping and so on.

"I think we cannot do more."

There were 28,002 doping tests carried out in football in 2013, 21,638 (77 per cent) of which were urine tests conducted in-competition.

Of those, 287 (1.32%) urine tests were classified as either Atypical Findings (ATFs) or Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs), which were subjected to a results management process. It is not disclosed whether or not those follow-ups led to sanctions. The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) hopes that by 2016 all Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) will be published.

"With the methods that we have and under the supervision of the Wada laboratory, I can tell you that the results are so good that worldwide we have a positive percentage of about 0.4%," he said.

"For worldwide doping cases, the majority are social drugs, so if you consider only the anabolic steroids and EPO and its derivatives then we arrive at statistics of about 0.04%. So you cannot say we have a doping culture."

It is estimated to cost $3 million to catch a single steroid cheat and D'Hooghe says that Fifa's unique financial might puts it in a prime position to catch dopers.

"I know the price we paid for the doping control in Brazil to examine all the players," he said. "I think not all international federations can do that.

"Wada says now that football gives the example. We are first international federation to examine all the players. Fifa has invested a lot of money in that and not everybody can do that."