Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Professional Footballers' Association

  The Professional Footballers' Association, as the players' representative, works very closely with the Football Association in the drugs testing programme within the professional game. I am aware that the Football Association have presented a comprehensive written submission which details the PFA's involvement in the testing programme. This clearly demonstrates that the PFA fully support the fundamental aims of the programme in preventing the use of prohibited substances to gain an unfair advantage and also in the education of all players to the dangers of the use of any prohibited substance, be it social and/or performance enhancing.

  The PFA has recently been working very closely with the Football Association with regard to their representation to FIFA in ensuring that the implementation of the WDA code by football does not have a detrimental effect on a very effective testing programme which operates within the English game. The PFA is also a member of FIFPro, the International Association of Football Players' unions, who have recently approached FIFA with regard to the possible implication of the implementation of the WADA code. The FA submission gives details with regard to the number of tests conducted since 1994 which identified only one positive find for performance enhancing substances which is a clear indication that the game does not have a problem with regard to performance enhancing drugs. However, it does confirm that football is faced with a social issue which is a reflection on society in general and football needs to continue to develop its drug education programme and the PFA is committed to working with the football authorities to develop this programme.

  With regard to drugs education and raising player awareness of the possible dangers of drugs abuse, the PFA as the main sponsor of the former England and Arsenal Captain Tony Adams' charity Sporting Chance Clinic which offers rehabilitation programmes to current and former members of the Association and also provides seminars at professional clubs to speak with both senior and young professional players, again a key area in the education of all players.

  The FA drug programme includes the PFA upon notification of a positive find and the matter is then dealt with giving consideration to the individual circumstances of the case and also in strict confidence to ensure that the individual has a fair hearing and opportunity to have his case properly considered.

  It is the issue of confidentiality which has been a major concern of the PFA, as the recent Rio Ferdinand case highlights. When confidentiality is breached, especially before an initial hearing or before a judgement is given, it is virtually impossible for the individual involved to have a fair hearing. The involvement of UK Sport in the testing programme, whilst ensuring that the testing procedure of the samples is of the highest quality using IOC accredited laboratories, raises concern over the publication of quarterly test results which due to the high profile of the game results in intense media interest and pressure.

  There have also been concerns of more specific details being released by UK Sport with regard to positive finds and therefore the PFA would support the FA's stance in the need to ensure that whichever body is involved in the testing programme it should be done under the rules and regulations of the Football Association.

  With regard to the use of professional players as role models in sport, the vast majority of our members accept this added responsibility albeit this does not appear to be the case in other parts of the entertainment industry such as music, films and television or indeed other professions which young men and women have reached the top of, be it Medicine, Law, Politics or Academic.

  We also have a media in this country which sets out to destroy good reputations especially in football such as is happening with David Beckham.

  We are where we are, however, and mindful of this role the PFA spends millions on courses aimed at giving young professionals advice in Life Skills and media awareness and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Literally millions of pounds for charity are raised by PFA members for such schemes as the Prince's Trust and various children's charities and hospices for example and football and its clubs and players are used very successfully by the DfES, the DCMS and Home Office for many schemes to encourage literacy, after school learning and crime prevention. Also as far as I am aware professional footballers are the only profession who willingly have in their contract a commitment to six hours a week community work. It would also be fair to say that initiatives started by the players and their union the PFA such as "Kick Racism out of Soccer" have created a ripple effect for good encouraging so many other such schemes in England and abroad and indeed is an excellent "role model" for the integration of more mixtures of players from different countries with different culture, colour, background and creeds than any other in the world and, at this moment in time, with the state of the world, such a role model example is one of which I feel justly proud.

20 April 2004

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