Referees are routinely
criticised for having poor eyesight, lacking fitness and getting
decisions wrong but FIFA medical experts want whistlers tested
for performance-enhancing drugs.
Top class and international match officials are already
subject to stringent fitness tests and while there was no
indication doping was an issue, delegates at FIFA's medical
congress were told on Thursday referees could come under the
same kind of doping scrutiny as players.
"We have to consider referees as part of the game," FIFA's
chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak told delegates on the second
day of the FIFA medical conference in Budapest.
"We have started to discuss this and this is something for
the future which will be discussed to include possibly an
anti-doping programme for referees.
"We do not have an indication that this is a problem but
this is something we have to look at. The referees are a
Michel D'Hooghe, the long-standing chairman of FIFA's
medical committee, added: "The referee is an athlete on the
field so I think he should be subjected to the same rules."
Howard Webb, who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, said any
measures to show football was free of drugs was fine by referees.
"I don't think it's an issue for any of us because we are
not in competition as such," said Webb. "If it is something FIFA
want to do we are fine with that. If it shows that everyone
involved in the game is absolutely clean, that is how it should
David Howman, the World Anti-Doping Agency's director
general, also told the conference that rules might change to
allow players from team sports who are banned for doping
offences to return to training, though not playing, earlier.
"We are looking for ideas on how reductions and early return
to training can be done," he said.
D'Hooghe added that players in team sports were hit harder
by drugs bans than individual athletes, who are still able to
train and return fit to competition when their bans end.
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