LONDON: Football must do more in the global battle against drugs in sport, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey said yesterday, supporting claims by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that current policy was too lax.
Amid questions about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in a number of sports, Wenger recently called for greater use of biological passports and increased testing for the blood-booster erythropoetin (EPO) in “the world game.”
“Whatever the sport, wherever it is in the world, more can be done,” Fahey told a news conference in London, against the backdrop of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal that saw the US cyclist stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for drug use.
“I saw some examples recently, in tennis, where senior players were saying they were not tested terribly regularly,” Fahey said. “I would say tennis can do more, as can football do more,” the Australian added. “We’re not in the business — and nor is any anti-doping agency — of reacting to rumor.
“On the other hand, on a daily basis we get frequently anonymous information at our headquarters and we ensure the appropriate body is given that information to follow up.
“So we don’t ignore it but one has to work on facts and it is not unusual for a losing team to blame something other than the ability of themselves for the reason for their defeat so you have to be a little bit careful and work on the facts.
“I simply say this about football — they are not testing enough for EPO. They can do more and we encourage them to do more.
“Again, use intelligence, not just more tests. While testing is a good deterrent factor and may be an effective way of catching people, I would argue the athlete biological passport is a very effective tool.
“Why isn’t football using it? Again, why aren’t the four football codes (football, rugby union, rugby league and Australian rules) in my country (Australia) using it? “They can and in my view it would make them more effective.
“But I also recognize all of this costs money and I suspect some sports have got capacity to do it more easily than others and I can only encourage sports to see why this must be a priority to ensure the integrity of their game.” WADA chiefs are due to meet with Sepp Blatter, the president of world football governing body FIFA, in Zurich on Thursday.