European handball scores another
Educating the next generation on dangers of doping in sport
When the EHF implemented the Anti-doping Unit (ADU) in 2012, Hans Holdhaus was appointed to head up the new body.
The Austrian, head of IMSB-Austria, the country’s high performance centre for sport, had previously held a similar position in the International Handball Federation.
“Fortunately handball is not a sport with major doping issues, most cases in the previous decades have been cases involving the social use of drugs,” says Holdhaus, who sees the risks of misuse mainly in the periods when players are recovering from injuries.
In 2016, there were again no positive doping tests across the EHF’s testing operations on club and national team levels.
We have approximately 20 accredited controllers all over Europe, who have conducted more than 200 tests at senior and junior EURO events or European Cup competitions. In addition, the national anti-doping agencies have carried out many more tests at our instigation,” Holdhaus explains.
To keep handball free of doping, one major task of the EHF Anti-doping Unit, supported by Adrienne Öri from the EHF Office, is to inform and educate.
“We were present at all EHF younger age competitions this summer, not only to conduct doping tests, but also to educate young players on doping, the rundown of controls, how to use and check medicine and about the big problem of nutritional supplements, which often contain substances from the WADA doping list,” says Holdhaus.
During the Men’s and Women’s EHF EURO events in Poland and Sweden all teams have been tested several times. Holdhaus was present to undertake the controls himself, with two players per team, drawn by lot by the team doctors or the physios ten minutes before the end of the game.
The EHF does not conduct blood tests at the event and Holdhaus is against this form of testing in handball, the testing of urine for is enough in his opinion.
“The arm is the most important instrument of a handball player, and you have to take the blood samples from the arm. Through infections or injuries the blood test method could cause problems for players,” he says.
The Anti-doping Unit’s work will continue into 2017. The Unit has developed a booklet and several presentations, which will be provided to all EHF member federations.
“It is an obligation for all federations to have an anti-doping-education programme with their young players, in their language, delivered by their experts, with our materials,” Holdhaus says, adding: “Everyone has to understand that the anti-doping fight is an integral part of today’s sport and that we controllers belong to the sport like the players or the coaches.”