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Doping battle must be more cost efficient: medical experts

Jiri Dvorak, Chief Medical Officer of the FIFA poses for photographers as he presents a ball with the lettering "SAY NO! TO DOPING" during a
Jiri Dvorak, Chief Medical Officer of the FIFA poses for photographers as he presents a ball with the lettering "SAY NO! TO DOPING" during a

ZURICH (Reuters) - The fight against doping costs $300-400 million a year and sporting medical experts at a conference hosted by FIFA on Friday questioned whether it was value for money.

FIFA's chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said prevention measures should be tailored according to the perceived risk in each sport, rather than be the same across the board.

"The question of whether this money is invested efficiently is justified. We're therefore discussing potential cost-effective and deterrent strategies," he noted in a statement following the anti-doping forum at FIFA headquarters.

"The time may be right for the development of a customized system which takes account of the risk assessment in each different type of sport and also has to be cost efficient."

Many football players and officials are unhappy about the use of the so-called 'whereabouts rule' in football, under which players have to stipulate where they will be for one hour of every day, seven days a week.

Mario Zorzoli, chief medical officer of the International Cycling Union (UCI), agreed that the doping fight needed to be more cost effective but supported the 'whereabouts rule'.

"We have to find new ways of testing athletes, but also have to strike a better balance between the cost and the effectiveness of the fight against doping," he said.

"The exchange of ideas with authorities such as police and customs must continue to be promoted. The fact that an athlete could be tested at any time throughout the year serves to deter potential drug users."

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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