FIFA doping controls: Help us tracking!


FIFA announced one new rule in the run-up to the World Cup 2014: All players of all teams should be tested with blood and urin for the so-called biological profile prior to start of the competition. We are trying to track every doping control made by FIFA prior to the upcoming World Cup. Help us to miss nothing and get the complete picture.

Tests for the passport have started March 1 and can go on until June 11. We started one open Google Document. If you read or know something about doping controls by FIFA in your country or national team, you can add these information in the document. Of course you can also shot us a message below or write us on twitter or Facebook and we will add your research in our table.

Have you heard about Ezequiel Lavezzi who missed the doping control in his training camp? Yeah, one reason why we should be keeping an eye on the FIFA doping controls.

Help us tracking. Share this message with your (international) friends.

Thank you so much in advance!

Have you already read our article about the long anti-doping flights from Brasil to Switzerland? If not: Here you go.

The Long Journey of WC Doping Samples

FIFA control document // Screenshot

[by Jonathan Sachse / translation: Thomas Bachmann]

Doping controls during football world cups are extremly ineffective. Not a single player has been tested positive in the past four world cups. And it could get even worse in Brazil as there is the samples might not be able to analysed in time.

Every evening, an airplane leaves Sao Paulo to head to Lausanne. Its precious carriage: Cooled doping samples from the world cup’s footballers. One day it’s samples of German and Portuguese players, the next day it’s urin and blood of Spanish and Dutch players on board. More than 20 of those long flights are scheduled.

You might wonder what’s all the fuzz about and why the samples have to be flown half way around the globe. There’s a delicate background to it. The laboratory in Rio de Janeiro lost its WADA accredidation last year after samples have been falsely analysed as positive. Therefore, FIFA looked for an alternative and picked the distant but trusted lab in Lausanne. Interestingly FIFA could have also picked labs in the US, Canada are other South American countries. Meanwhile, FIFA has admitted its solution could cause serious logistic problems.

Last week, German radio station HR Info put the finger in this particular wound again. The biggest problem is caused by the limited time the Lausanne lab has to analyse the samples. FIFA medical chief Michel D’Hooghe told AP back in April he isn’t „entirely sure“ if the results will be available before the next match a team.

So we also handed in a request. We were keen on getting more information about those doping flights and asked for a flight schedule. However, FIFA refused to hand us those details. Instead, a spokesperson came up with a rather general and very smooth answer: „The Lausanne laboratory is prepared to work 24 hours a day in order to provide the results before the next match of a team.“

So we decided to do the maths ourselves and took a look at the flight route and the probable time it takes to analyse the samples.

After every match, two players of each team are going to be tested. As evening matches end between 5 and 6pm local time and players often need a little while to be able to give a urin sample, it is fair to say this whole process takes up to four hours. That means the samples will leave the stadium at around 10pm.

If you look at the map you easily see the partly massive distances between the stadiums. And keep in mind: The doping flights always start in Sao Paulo.

Considering the distances and Brazil’s infrastructure, the samples need to be taken to Sao Paulo by plane. We listed the approximate flight time in the table below.

Once they’ve reached Sao Paulo, the cooled samples will all be put in to the plane to Lausanne. Let’s say everything works according to plan, then the plane leaves Brazil in the early morning after the match and touches down in Switzerland 14 hours later. So it takes a whole day to take the samples from the stadium to the lab. Again, only if everything works out smoothly.

Andrea Gotzmann, CEO of the German anti-doping agency NADA, explained in a debate on May 21 that a lab needs indeed 24 hours to confirm a sample as negativ. However, if some dodgy parameters come up during the analysis the whole process is much, much longer as everything has to be done again more detailled.

FIFA anti-doping rules (61.1) also state that a player has another 12 hours to request the B-sample if he was tested positive. And now the tricky bit: For the B-sample to be opened, a representative of the player’s club or national team has to be present. In this case, he or she has to be in Lausanne.

To sum it all up: The teams at the world cup have to play every four days. If a player is tested positive it would be highly unlikely that this test will be published before the next match. Another concern we haven’t even mentioned yet is the rising risk of the sample to be damaged the longer the transport is.

But to be frank that’s all very much a theory. The probability of a player to be tested positive during the world cup is pretty close to zero. So far only three players were caught during a world cup. Ernst Jean-Joseph (1974) from Haiti and Willie Johnston (1978) from Scotland were caught at a time were doping tests were carried out rather sporadic. Only since 1994 as FIFA states in this document (p. 10) tests are carried out and analysed professionally. In 1994, no other than Diego Maradona was tested positive for ephedrine and was subsequently excluded from the world cup.

After 1994? Absolutely nothing! Over the past four world cups more than 4000 samples were taken and not a single one was positive. So no one’s doping anymore on football’s biggest stage? Or is it the doping controls that are ineffective?

FIFA is eager to praise its own anti-doping fight and the introduction of the biological passport. For the first time, blood and urin parameters are taken to create a biological profile of a player. Tests for the passport have started March 1, the German squad was tested on May 26. Before the world cup, only NADA might test the German players again, but those results won’t be included in the biological passport. Other national teams were tested as well, but some player missed the FIFA tests. We started this Google Document where you can read all tests from every country. Feel free to share additional information.


Don’t get me wrong, the passport is the right way to go. But in the current state it has hardly any value. So considering the logistic challenges it would be a massive surprise if a world cup player will be tested positive.

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Francois Marque banned for six matches

© Jonathan Sachse

The German Football Federation’s tribunal has ruled the positive test of Francois Marque as a doping offense. However, the defender of third division side Saarbrücken FC has been only banned for six matches as he didn’t use a classic performance enhancing product. The DFB published the verdict on its website (Press Release in German).

[by Jonathan Sachse / translation: Thomas Bachmann]

To bring you up to speed, we put together a chronology of the Marque case from the positive test to the verdict.

Nov 30, 2013

Marque is asked to deliver a urin sample after the match against RB Leipzig. A week later, the lab informs the DFB about the positive test. The cortisone product is free to be used in training, but can only be applied in competition with a medical exemption. Marque was not able to present such an exemption.

Jan 20, 2014

Shortly before Marque’s hearing, the Saarländische Rundfunk (SR) breaks the story of the case. The player asks for the B-sample to be analysed. Weiterlesen

European doping test systems: Record positives in Portugal

Fußballnation Portugal / Twitter-Nutzer agu2000_de; CC BY 2.0)

More than 100 positive doping tests have been discovered in Portuguese football over the last ten years. That’s quite remarkable and by far the record number in European football. What’s the reason for so many positive tests? The answer is to be found in the Portuguese control system.

[by Jonathan Sachse / translation: Thomas Bachmann]

In December, we published the first results of our research about doping controls in European football. Now we dig a little deeper and are going to analyse the various systems. We kick it off with Portugal.

Who gets tested and where?

Portugal’s anti-doping agency ADoP carries out all tests. A minimum of two matches of the first division (Liga ZON Sagres) and one match of the second division (Liga2 Cabovisao) will be drawn every match day. There are only three out-of-competition tests per team in the first division and two per team in the second division over the whole season. Weiterlesen

Dopingcase in German Football

Francois Marque / CC 3.0 via Ligue de Football Professionel

There is a new doping case in Germany’s professional football. Doping control officers found a cortisone substance in Francois Marque’s blood. His club 1. FC Saarbrücken (third division) confirmed the positive test of the French player, says German public TV ARD.

The forbidden substance was found after a game against RB Leipzig on November 30st. 31st. A- and B-sample were positive. German football federation DFB wants to deal with the case in a hearing next Monday.

According to ARD the positive sample was caused by a cortisone-containing ointment. Athletes need therapeutic use exemptions from a national doping agency to use these sort of creams. His club 1. FC Saarbrücken seems to think that the positive test is a form error. Maybe they reference to a missing use exemption. Weiterlesen

Holey doping tests all over Europe

Screen on

The doping tests in Europe’s top football leagues are full of holes. Still, there have been more than 300 doping cases in the last couple of years. An investigation for Spiegel Online done by looked into the different anti doping systems in European football.

The German football federation DFB says that they have the second best doping control system in the whole world. We looked into that statement. We asked football federations and anti doping agencies in 20 countries, read their annual reports and also WADA reports. After that we produced a multimedia feature for the biggester German news website Spiegel Online. The piece was published today. Weiterlesen

Trouble on Corsica

Fabrizio Ravanelli has played for Juventus Turin from 1992 to 1996. At that time Juve was involved in one of the biggest doping scandals football ever had. Ravanelli became a coach. Last Sunday the French club AJ Ajaccio (Ligue 1) fired him. According to LeMonde one of his former players blamed Ravanelli to force players to take dubious nutrition supplements.

Ravanelli came to Ajaccio in June. Before that he led the training centre at and the reserve team of Juventus Turin. Ravanelli brought his longtime companion to Corsica, athletics trainer Giampiero Vetrone. Ravanelli and Vetrone got to know each other back in 1994 at Juventus Turin. Weiterlesen

Sepp Blatter on drug-fight: “We lag behind”

Football page of DIE ZEIT (issue 39/2013)

Sepp Blatter surprised with some rather critic statements on FIFA’s fight against doping. The president of football’s world governing body not only confirmed that the sport has a doping problem, but Blatter also says FIFA lags far behind in the fight against doping especially in detecting new drugs. In the case of Germany, Blatter claims the country needs to implement an anti-doping law in order to attack the issue of doping in football.

[by Jonathan Sachse and Daniel Drepper / translation: Thomas Bachmann]

So far, Sepp Blatter never really appeared too keen to address the doping issue in football. However, what he said in a public talk in Zurich organised by German weekly DIE ZEIT might have surprised many of Blatter’s critics. Parts of the interview were published in the current issue of DIE ZEIT. Weiterlesen

Nine times blood-doping in Bundesliga?

Title of the study researched by German national team physician Tim Meyer


A five year old study seems to contradict the whole Anti-Doping-Talk of German football officials: high blood values from the Bundesliga season 2008/2009 might indicate blood doping. The German football federation DFB says, the values can be explained by normal deviations. But as long as doping controls don’t get better in the Bundesliga, doping is on the table.

[by Daniel Drepper and Jonathan Sachse]

The suspicious blood values were found in a study of Germanys team physician Tim Meyer. The study and a doctoral thesis on the same research was obtained by this week. DFB never tried to follow up on this high blood parameters, didn’t mention them in public and instead continued to say that blood doping in football makes no sense. This may now be disproved. For his study Meyer and his Co-Author Steffen Meister collected blood parameters from 18 different clubs in the first three divisions. Nine times they found hemoglobin values over 17 g/dl, eight times they found haematocrit values over 50%. Weiterlesen

Jens Lehmann: Doping for rehab alright

Jens Lehmanns column in SportBild (35/2013)

Germany is discussing drugs in football. A scientific study about doping in West-Germany revealed that the German national football teams from 1954, 1966 and 1974 are suspicious of taking doping substances. In the last couple of weeks a lot of former German soccer players had to answer questions about doping. Bernd Schuster, Dieter Schatzschneider, Paul Breitner, even Franz “the Kaiser” Beckenbauer himself. Today Jens Lehmann uses his one-page-column for German sports weekly SportBild to write about the issue. He gives some interesting insights.

Lehmann writes about his time at Arsenal London: He and his teammates took infusions “without asking any questions” and with “blind faith in the physicians”. He believes that the physicians didn’t give any illegal substances, but he is not a hundred percent sure about that. Weiterlesen