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Safeguarding Fair Play: A Closer Look at FIFA's Anti-Doping Efforts in 2023

Written by Avinash Kumar


In 2023, FIFA continued its unwavering commitment to maintaining the integrity and fairness of football through its comprehensive anti-doping program. This report provides an overview of FIFA's anti-doping efforts throughout the year, highlighting key initiatives, collaborations, and achievements. FIFA intensified its efforts in anti-doping measures, focusing on women's football and youth tournaments. The FIFA Women’s World Cup™ received significant attention, with a notable increase in the number of tests conducted per participating team. This emphasis underscores FIFA's commitment to maintaining integrity and fairness in women's football.

Furthermore, FIFA extended its anti-doping initiatives to include the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ and the FIFA U-20 World Cup™, youth tournaments that serve as platforms for emerging talents. This expansion involved enhancing out-of-competition doping control testing, a crucial step in ensuring a level playing field for young players striving to make their mark in the sport.

Additionally, FIFA extended its testing capabilities to include the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ and the FIFA U-20 World Cup™, intensifying out-of-competition doping control measures. These initiatives were aimed at maintaining fairness and integrity in the sport, particularly for emerging talents, and underscore FIFA's commitment to upholding the values of sporting excellence, passion, and team spirit. FIFA's doping control officers worked closely with NADO officials during these events, ensuring proper sample collection and transportation to WADA-accredited laboratories. Additionally, FIFA conducted educational workshops and webinars to enhance understanding of sample collection procedures and utilized paperless doping control forms, leaving a positive impact on the host countries' anti-doping landscape.

Moreover, FIFA extended its assistance to football confederations, exemplified by a new agreement signed with Concacaf in 2023 to expand anti-doping programs. This collaboration led to a significant increase in testing numbers within Concacaf competitions compared to the previous year, highlighting FIFA's commitment to promoting integrity and fairness in football worldwide. Overall, FIFA's comprehensive approach to anti-doping in 2023 left a lasting legacy by empowering local entities, boosting international collaboration, and reinforcing the principles of integrity and fairness in football worldwide.


The data presented in the Anti-Doping Report for FIFA in 2023 is extracted from the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS), developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to coordinate global anti-doping activities. The report highlights the shared responsibility established by FIFA's Anti-Doping Regulations, which involves FIFA, its 211 member associations, and the six confederations in conducting anti-doping tests.

Traditionally, FIFA primarily conducts testing during its own competitions, such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the confederations and member associations are responsible for testing at the confederation or national level, respectively. However, a recent change to the WADA Code prohibits confederations from operating as a testing authority independently. As a result, every doping control test conducted by the confederations automatically includes FIFA as a testing authority in the relevant data.

For the report, only doping controls conducted by confederations in connection with the FIFA World Cup 26™ qualifiers have been considered. This ensures a focused analysis of anti-doping efforts within the context of FIFA's flagship tournament qualifiers.


The areas that were mainly focused in the report:

1. Expansion to Youth Tournaments

FIFA expanded its anti-doping program to include the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ and the FIFA U-20 World Cup™, recognizing the importance of maintaining integrity in youth competitions. This expansion involved stepping up out-of-competition doping control testing, thereby providing aspiring young footballers with a level playing field to showcase their talent.

2. Focus on Women's Football 

FIFA's increased emphasis on anti-doping measures in women's football, particularly during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, demonstrates a commitment to gender equality in sports governance and the recognition of the importance of ensuring clean competition in all facets of the game.

3. Collaboration with NADOs

FIFA's collaboration with National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) is commendable, as it strengthens the global network of anti-doping efforts and ensures consistency in testing procedures across different regions. By working closely with NADO officials, FIFA can leverage local expertise and resources to enhance the effectiveness of its anti-doping program.


Areas that need improvement in report:

1. Transparency and Accountability

While the report outlines FIFA's anti-doping activities, there is a lack of detailed information regarding specific testing procedures, sample collection methods, and results. Greater transparency in these areas would enhance accountability and build trust among stakeholders, including athletes, fans, and the broader sporting community.

2. Education and Prevention

While FIFA mentions educational workshops and webinars on sample collection procedures, there is limited information on broader education and prevention initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of doping and promoting a clean sports culture. Investing in comprehensive education programs could help deter doping behavior and empower athletes to make informed decisions regarding their health and integrity.

3. Evaluation of Impact

The report highlights the increase in testing numbers within certain tournaments and regions, but it lacks an in-depth evaluation of the overall impact of FIFA's anti-doping efforts. Metrics such as detection rates, sanctions imposed, and feedback from stakeholders would provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of FIFA's anti-doping program and inform future strategies.


FIFA prosecutes no cases with a clean slate:

In 2023, FIFA conducted extensive anti-doping testing across various tournaments but reported no confirmed doping cases out of more than 2,600 samples collected. The annual report revealed one positive test at the Women's World Cup, later attributed to a player's medical exemption, and two potential cases among men, which were subsequently closed.

At the Women's World Cup, samples were collected from 860 players, with some tested multiple times, while 732 men's players provided samples at events including the Club World Cup, youth World Cups, and 2026 World Cup qualifiers. In contrast, during the 2022 World Cup qualification games, FIFA prosecuted five disciplinary cases for positive tests involving players from Costa Rica, Djibouti, El Salvador, Honduras, and Ivory Coast.

FIFA's report came shortly after France and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba received a four-year ban in a domestic case in Italy for testing positive for the steroid precursor DHEA, with Pogba planning to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Additionally, a suspected positive test for testosterone at the men's Under-20 World Cup in Argentina was not confirmed upon follow-up testing, leading to no disciplinary action.


Some statistical data published by FIFA in the anti-doping report:


1. Total Number of Tests

From 1st January to 31st December 2023, a total of 1,592 doping control tests were conducted in seven different FIFA competitions.

2. Total Number of Samples

The total number of samples collected as part of those tests was 2,616, consisting of 1,581 urine samples, 475 blood samples, 449 blood passport samples, and 111 dried blood blood-spot samples. It should be noted that this overview does not consider the number of partial urine samples that did not meet the testing criteria and, as a result, the respective players who had to be asked to provide an additional urine sample. It does, however, include players who had to be asked to give an additional urine sample in case the first sample did not meet the requirements regarding the specific gravity of the urine.

3. Analysis Carried out by WADA-Accredited Laboratories

For the analysis of samples, FIFA can count on the valuable collaboration of 32 different WADA-accredited laboratories around the world, each one specially equipped to detect the possible presence of prohibited substances or methods. The analysis of the 2,616 samples was carried out by 13 different laboratories.


FIFA's Anti-Doping Report for 2023 highlights the organization's unwavering commitment to safeguarding the principles of fair play and integrity in football. Through increased focus on women's football, expansion to youth tournaments, collaboration with NADOs, and education initiatives, FIFA demonstrates its proactive approach to combatting doping and ensuring a level playing field for all athletes.

While FIFA's Anti-Doping Report highlights important initiatives and partnerships in the fight against doping in football, it falls short in several areas, including transparency, data accuracy, and evaluation of effectiveness. To strengthen its anti-doping program and uphold the integrity of the sport, FIFA should prioritize transparency in reporting, address challenges posed by recent regulatory changes, and conduct comprehensive evaluations of anti-doping efforts. By doing so, FIFA can demonstrate its commitment to fair play and ensure a level playing field for all athletes.

*The Author is a legal Scholar from India

(The Image used here is for representative purposes only)


  1.  For technical reasons regarding the sample collection entities involved, the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 and all the confederation qualifying tournaments are seen as two different competitions.  

  2. FIFA Anti-Doping Report, 2023

  3.  FIFA Anti-Doping Report 2023



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