FIFA Medical Chief Discusses Departure

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Jiri Dvorak (Getty Images)
(WFI) Jiri Dvorak tells INSIDER he regrets his "abrupt" departure from FIFA after 22 years as the world football federation's highly-respected medical chief.

A FIFA statement on Nov. 2 confirmed that Dvorak would be leaving his role as head of medical services and anti-doping. The statement added that a successor will be selected in due course.

Dvorak, a high-profile and highly-respected member of the sports medicine sphere, initially joined FIFA during the sensational Diego Maradona dope-test incident at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

In addition to a range of other appointments, Dvorak rose rapidly to become FIFA’s chief medical officer and head the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) which goes far beyond the research and investment programs of any other international sports federation.

Speaking to INSIDER in Lausanne this week at the SportAccord IF Forum, Dvorak said he accepted FIFA's decision but expressed some surprise that he was not asked to coordinate the handover to a new team.

"I have given the best from my experience as physician and scientist to FIFA and it was not my intention to terminate the activity so abruptly," Dvorak said. "So my intention was to see that this huge body of experience can be passed over in a harmonious way to a successor to the benefit of the health of the players at all level of play."

He continued: "Now the new management is reassessing all the projects and all the programs. However they decided not to continue my mandate with FIFA which I have accepted but it was not my intention to do it so abruptly."

The reassessment comes as FIFA president Gianni Infantino, elected in February of this year, continues with his restructuring of world football's governing body, in what he has now come to refer to as 'New FIFA'.

The process has seen a number of FIFA's 'old guard' take their leave, after long-term Marketing Director Thierry Weil left last month not long before it was confirmed Director of TV Niclas Ericson would be leaving at the end of the year.

Dvorak, who helped pioneer cooperation between the world of sports medicine and the administrative arm of national associations, said that he had not received a full explanation for his abrupt exit.

"There was not really an explanation," he said. "But what I understood, indirectly, is that the new management is reassessing everything and what I have heard from this is that they reassess and they will come with the new strategies.

"My main hope is that the work among others of anti-doping will continue as it has been so far."

Dvorak admitted that football is one sport "less prone to doping" but reiterated that there must not be complacency in the fight against the science of cheating. Hence his understandable concern that he was not given a significant amount of time to handover his work at FIFA to a new medical chief.

The main theme of the IF Forum this week in Lausanne, Switzerland was 'The power of sport to drive world health', and as one of the co-organizers Dvorak was there to impart and share his wisdom and experience from the implementation of the health awareness 'FIFA 11 for Health' program with all sports federations from the Olympics realm.

By INSIDER writer Christian Radnedge

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