MR cracks ‘age-doping” in international youth soccer

October 6, 2009

MRI has been adopted by the International Federation of Association Football as a definitive measure to ensure fair play.

MRI has been adopted by the International Federation of Association Football as a definitive measure to ensure fair play.

FIFA, the governing body for international soccer competition, launched a program of random MRI wrist screening this month to verify the age of players competing in the U-17 (under 17) World Cup, which is being hosted by Nigeria. The issue of fielding overage players has been around for some time because the global competition draws talent from many parts of the world where age cannot be clearly determined. With this method, FIFA will guarantee that all players are really biologically under 17, according to FIFA's chief medical officer, Prof. Jiri Dvorak.

“MRI can determine age below or over 17 with a certainty of 99%,” he said.

FIFA-sanctioned competitions had used x-rays for this purpose in the past. But several member associations raised concerns about the use of ionizing radiation. This led the organization to look to MRI instead, Dvorak said.