What is doping?

More people play football than any other team sport, which is why effective and efficient doping controls are essential.


According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), some 30,000 such controls are carried out in football every year. Only a small number, less than 0.45%, have tested positive over the years (2011: 0.42%, 2012: 0.40%, 2013: 0.29%, 2014: 0.20%).

FIFA’s aim is therefore clear: to keep football free of doping.

But what is doping? In a nutshell, doping is defined by institutions such as WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the taking of banned substances or using prohibited methods to enhance or maintain sporting performance.


Doping is prohibited in sport. For athletes, doping and medication abuse present a considerable risk to health and give them an unfair advantage over other athletes, which goes against the principle of fair play that is embedded in sport.



It is important to note that doping is also a criminal offence in certain countries. While in Germany, for example, sports tribunals handling doping cases can only hand out penalties within the sport concerned (such as stripping athletes of titles and successes or banning them from competitions), in other countries, prison sentences are possible.  

FIFA’s fight against doping

When FIFA introduced doping controls in 1966, it was one of the first sports associations worldwide to acknowledge the problem and take active measures to fight and spread awareness of it.

FIFA spends a considerable amount of money on this fight, with a single doping test – including organisation, implementation, analysis and administration – costing around USD 1,000. Annually, the total amount spent on doping controls in football alone is some USD 30 million.

FIFA’s anti-doping strategy is geared towards education and prevention.


Despite its ambitious aims, FIFA respects the dignity and privacy of every player who must undergo doping tests. For its anti-doping programme, FIFA bases all of its decisions on the particular features of football, scientific findings and the analysis of reliable doping statistics. It assumes its responsibility in the fight against doping by setting strict testing rules, continuously collecting data and promoting the relevant research methods. In addition, FIFA has proved a reliable partner of WADA in the global efforts undertaken to protect athletes’ health and the spirit of fair play. This cooperation is something that FIFA takes very seriously.

This is doping: World Anti-Doping Code

The IOC defines doping as follows: “Doping is the intentional or unintentional use of prohibited substances and prohibited methods on the current doping list.” Since 2004, WADA’s definition as embedded in the World Anti-Doping Code has been accepted as the international standard.