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Blood tests for players at FIFA Confederations Cup
2009-03-21

Football stars coming to South Africa to play in the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in June will not only have their urine tested for illegal substances but their blood as well.

This will be the first time that blood samples from sportsmen or women will be tested in South Africa.

“Blood testing is a new regulation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and will be implemented in our laboratory for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June,” according to Dr Pieter van der Merwe, Head of the SA Doping Control Laboratory at the University of the Free State (UFS), the only testing facility of its kind in Southern Africa.

Although urine will still be tested, blood tests have become compulsory, because the substances used by sports men and women are becoming more sophisticated.

“Some substances, such as the growth hormone, can more easily be detected in blood. It is more difficult to determine these kinds of substances in urine,” explained Dr Van der Merwe.

“We were contracted by the International Rugby Board (IRB) to conduct the testing for the 7’s World Cup Rugby Tournament that was recently held in Dubai and by FIFA to do the testing for the Confederations Cup this year as well as the 2010 World Cup. This demonstrates the confidence of International Sport Federations in the quality and standard of work produced by this facility at the UFS,” he said.

The results of all tests done for the national programme in South Africa are sent to the Institute for Drug Free Sport based in Cape Town from where it is reported to the various sports federations. However, the rugby and soccer results are reported directly to the IRB and FIFA respectively.

The move to incorporate blood tests in the testing process has resulted in the expansion of the facility’s infrastructure.

“A new extension will be built for us in the near future in order for us to accommodate the conducting of urine and blood testing,” says Dr van der Merwe.

Media Release
Issued by: Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2749
Cell: 072 207 8334
E-mail: fishera.stg@ufs.ac.za  
20 March 2009

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