CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in LAUSANNE*: Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s former medical chief, has expressed regret at his “abrupt” departure after 22 years.
The world football federation announced on November 2 that Dvorak had that day left his role as head of medical services and that a successor will be selected in due course.
Dvorak, high-profile and highly-respected member of the sports medicine sphere, came on board with 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 programmes of any other international sports federation.
Dvorak, attending a SportAccord International Federations forum, Dvorak said he accepted FIFA’s decision but expressed some surprise that he was not allowed to be involved in coordinating the handover to a new team.
‘Body of experience’
He said: “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.
“So my intention was to see that this huge body of experience can be passed over in a harmonious way to a successor.
He added: “Now the new management is reassessing all the projects and all the programmes and decided not to continue my mandate with FIFA which of course 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, continues with his restructuring with a steady stream of new appointments.
The process has seen a number of FIFA’s ‘old guard’ take their leave, Long-term marketing director Thierry Weil left last month ahead of confirmation that 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, considered he had not received a full explanation for his abrupt exit.
He said: “There was not really an explanation 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 that the work of anti-doping will continue as it has been so far.”
The main theme of the IF Forum this week in Switzerland was the fight against doping in sport and Dvorak , as one of the co-organisers, was present to share his own experience and insight.
Dvorak said that football was one sport “less prone to doping” but reiterated that there must be no complacency in the fight against the science of cheating.
** Reporting for Around The Rings (aroundtherings.com)