GENEVA, March 2. /TASS/. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced on Wednesday that its comprehensive anti-doping program was in full swing and relevant agreements had been already signed with over 20 national anti-doping agencies.
"UEFA's new sample storage and retesting process, the latest weapon in its anti-doping armory, is now up and running," UEFA announced on its website on Wednesday.
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 season the UEFA declared it had launched an anti-doping program, encompassing the introduction of the steroidal module of the athletes’ World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) biological passport with the aim of improving the identification of the use of steroids and strengthening the rules related to the whereabouts of the team and players and the long-term storage of test samples.
"…agreements have now been signed with 21 national anti-doping agencies (NADOs): Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (agreement with Russia suspended)," UEFA said on its website.
Earlier media reports alleged that UEFA completely suspended its anti-doping cooperation with Russia’s NADO, which is the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), and which at the moment is limited in its rights by the earlier decision of the WADA.
However, UEFA’s press service said in its statement addressed to TASS that "UEFA and Russia have not suspended joint anti-doping work - UEFA is still testing Russian players, and they are also being tested in Russia under WADA supervision."
"UEFA aims to have agreements in place with all 24 teams' NADOs before EURO 2016, but UEFA does need to have such agreements in order to test players," the football organization added in its statement.
"We inform you that tests in Russia will be conducted by UEFA Doping Control Officers," UEFA said in its statement for TASS. "Tests outside Russia will be done mainly by UEFA Doping Control officers but can also be done by national anti-doping agencies. All sample analysis will be done in European WADA-accredited labs."
Earlier in the day, UEFA announced that its objective "is that as many agreements as possible will be signed with the national anti-doping agencies of all 24 participating UEFA EURO 2016 countries before the tournament begins in June."
A total of 24 European national teams qualified for the Euro Cup final tournament in 2016, after the contestants’ format, which was used since 1996, was decided to be extended from 16 to 24 teams. Russia is one of the qualified teams for the upcoming UEFA Euro Cup.
The 2016 UEFA Euro Cup will be held between June 10 and July 10 with matches to be played in 10 different cities, namely in Bordeaux, Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Etienne, and Toulouse.
Since early February, control over doping abuse in Russian sports has been exercised by RUSADA only in cooperation with the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).
The agreement on cooperation between the UKAD and the Russian agency, which is currently limited in its rights following a decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was signed on February 1. The agreement will be in force until RUSADA is restored in its rights returning its former status.