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Posted: 23 February 2010 Time: 10:09

African teams may consult traditional healers and use traditional forms of treatment during the 2010 Fifa World Cup finals.

This information surfaced at the Third International Football Medicine Conference at Sun City over the weekend.

The workshop was attended by more than 300 sport physicians, physiotherapists and the team doctors of the 32 participating teams at this year's World Cup.

Consultation with a traditional healer before undertaking a daunting task is nothing new for most South Africans. Most footballers in Africa use this method of getting back to one's roots before a big match.

The revelation caught the good doctors at Fifa's medicine conference slightly off-guard. But, Fifa's chairperson of the medical committee Michel D'Hooghe says the world's football governing body is not too concerned about the use of traditional African medicines during the World Cup.

However, Fifa does have strict controls over treatments and they will be working closely with the 32 team physicians under the auspices of the World Anti-Doping Agency - so any traditional methods will have to be based purely on spiritual healing.

There will be 256 unannounced doping tests prior to the World Cup and during the World Cup - two randomly selected players per team per match will undergo testing.

Fifa said the blood and urine tests would be held without notice. They would start on April 10 and run until the day before the World Cup kicks off on June 11.

The 32 finalists have been told to submit their team whereabouts to Fifa by March 22.

Vigorous drug testing would also be carried out during the month-long competition in South Africa, Fifa's chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said.

"We take the fight against doping very seriously and are committed to continuing it in full compliance with the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) code."

Dvorak said Fifa had conducted more than 33 000 doping tests "over the years" with only 0.03 percent of the cases returning positive results.

The extensive testing will all be made possible by the vast improvements made in medical logistics around South Africa.

D'Hooghe also said that all the participating nations had signed a memorandum to fight doping.

Fifa has a good track record of being almost dope-free and given that they govern over the biggest sporting code, it is quite a feat.

The last doping violation in a World Cup was in 1994 when Diego Maradona began his fall from grace.

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