World Cup players face herbal medicine tests

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The Independent Online

Fifa officials believe the World Anti-Doping Agency should address concerns that World Cup players may try to gain an unfair advantage by using traditional African herbal medicines that are not currently banned.

The medical committee of football's governing body want WADA to look at claims that some African plants that could give athletes an unfair advantage.

The matter was discussed during a pre-World Cup Team Workshop at Sun City in South Africa, a conference attended by national coaches and medical staff.

Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's chief medical officer, said: "We had an interesting presentation about African plants and herbs and learned that some of them have diuretic properties and some can be stimulants.

"That is an issue for WADA, but I am really not worried about (new) people using them at the World Cup. Do you think that the 32 medical chiefs who have signed up to our anti-doping declaration will be using products that they don't even know?"

Dvorak revealed that countries at the World Cup will each have eight players randomly dope tested during unannounced visits at some stage after March 22 and before the tournament.

He added: "We are all fighting together against the threat of cheating by doping. We have asked the medical chiefs of all 32 competing teams to fight with us and to sign a joint declaration. This they have done.

"I remind you that the last incident we had of a failed dope test at a World Cup was in 1994"