After thirty days and plenty of headaches from those lovely vuvuzelas (Don’t worry- they will NOT be allowed at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil), this first World Cup in South Africa has come and gone. Paul the Octopus went 8-0 and correctly picked Spain to be the World Champions. The 2010 World Cup has given us many things to talk about, but one thing that won’t be talked about is doping. We got enough of that from Floyd Landis.
FIFA reports that more than 450 players were tested, including around 200 match-day checks, and no athletes were positive for any steroids or banned substances. FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak confirmed that no positive results were found. That means that for the fourth straight World Cup tournament (1998, 2002 and 2006, 2010), no soccer/ futbol player has ever been caught for doping.
When first hearing this news, I was glad that no athletes turned up positive for this year’s 2010 World Cup. Then after thinking further, I had to question how this could be possible for four straight tournaments. I played club and college soccer at many different levels throughout my career and never really ran across soccer players talking about using steroids, but I know it has to exist out there. Even if it is not openly used or discussed, it is hard to believe that nobody slipped up and took a supplement or something over the counter that contained a banned substance similar to the StarCaps case currently going on in the NFL with the Minnessota Vikings players testing positive for a banned substance they “unknowingly ingested.” In 2008, two New York Red Bull players were caught for violating the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Policy (SABH). According to Red Bulls manager director Erik Stover, both players said “that they ingested an over-the-counter supplement that unknowingly contained a banned substance.”
Four straight World Cup tournaments means that nobody has “accidentally” ingested a banned substance in sixteen years during tournament play. Either all the athletes do a great job of hiding this from FIFA officials, or FIFA and the magnitude of the World Cup do a great job of deterring these athletes from doping by suspension and loss of pay. Could this unblemished record for four straight World Cup tournaments really be possible, or will the next Jose Canseco pop out sometime and start blowing the whistle?