European soccer body UEFA has dismissed the notion that the use of performance enhancing drugs could be common among top footballers. The governing body of football in Europe made this comment after a study, which was published in a monthly science journal this month, showed a high number of suspicious testosterone levels.

This study was based on 4,195 urine samples taken mainly from players who featured in the Champions League between 2008 and 2013. Results of the samples were analyzed by scientists from 12 anti-doping laboratories in Europe. No “B” samples were taken, UEFA said and the governing body also said no additional analysis was conducted to confirm whether the high testosterone levels were due to doping or not.

The UEFA-commissioned study disclosed that high testosterone levels were found in urine samples of 7.7 percent of 879 players involved in the Champions League, Europa League, and two European Championships between 2008-13 who were tested by researchers and these high testosterone levels could indicate the use of anabolic steroids. This research was never publicized by UEFA and it came to light in a report by German broadcaster ARD on Sunday. However, UEFA did announce that steroid use by players was being added this season to its biological passport program.

Commenting on the research, UEFA said the study simply shows that the introduction of steroidal biological passport in football would be beneficial by offering further analysis possibilities in case of atypical test results. The European soccer body also added it has had a very thorough anti-doping program for many years with over 2000 tests a year and only two occurrences of positive tests, both for recreational drugs, which proves that doping in football is extremely rare.

UEFA also said this study does not present any scientific evidence of potential doping in football especially due to the presence of confounding factors, the lack of standardization procedures among the 12 laboratories, and the quantification of steroid profiles when the samples were collected. It added there was an inability to perform a second analysis as required now by the WADA international standards for laboratories.

The soccer body also said the study simply shows that the introduction of steroidal biological passport in football would be beneficial by offering further analysis possibilities in case of atypical test results and also remarked it has now implemented a new steroid profiling program which has come into operation at the start of the 2015/16 season. Players in UEFA competitions, including Euro 2016 and the Champions League, will give more than 2,000 urine or blood. UEFA also said players who could be selected for the 24-team European tournament in France can be tested from January. It also said the program will boost the already strong deterrent effect of UEFA’s testing program, as it will help better detect the effects of doping over time, thereby complementing existing direct anti-doping testing.

Recently, FIFA and UEFA medical committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe said doping control and the fight against doping is an absolute top priority both for the medical commission of FIFA and UEFA. D’Hooghe also added UEFA wants to start with pre-tournament out-of-competition doping control, blood as well as urine, precisely with the intention of controlling all the players and to establish a biological passport for all of the players.

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