Six years ago an anti-doping control to the national football team players hired as interns in Covilhã caused great controversy by the fact that it occurred unannounced at eight in the morning, when many players were still asleep. The then national coach Carlos Queiroz reacted badly and was even subject to disciplinary action for offensive words addressed to the medical team. Today, most of the doping controls to federal top athletes are still carried out early in the morning. Two years ago, the national football team, at the time when Paulo Bento was coach, was even subject to controls at seven a.m.
“There are a few medical reasons that can justify an analysis being carried out earlier in the morning, for example, the fact that the urine has less density than during the day because of the water that the athlete drinks”, says António Júlio Nunes, Executive Director of the Anti-doping Authority of Portugal (ADOP). “Most athletes choose the anti-doping control between seven and eight in the morning”, he adds. This is due to the fact that they are required to report to ADOP where they are daily and the hours at which they are available throughout the whole year, a plan which is submitted quarterly by the athlete to the doping authority. “Many choose the morning time because it is the most convenient one, as they know they are usually home at that time”, António Júlio Nunes says.
“Top athletes carry certain responsibilities that can limit their lives”, he adds. The issue is sensitive. Would athletes, many of them amateurs, choose another time of the day other than the morning if they could predict their lives, three months in advance, as to where they are and at what time of a particular day? Would they then safeguard their and their families’ right to rest? In 2014 the Anti-Doping Authority had 516 athletes from various sports as target group of the athlete location system. In the same year 3215 samples were taken, with a percentage of 22.7 of violations of the location system.