With all eyes on the 2018 AFC U23 Championship final between Vietnam and Uzbekistan on Saturday, a rumor surfaced on Facebook claiming that the Golden Stars were eliminated from the clash, saying that two of their players failed a drug test.
The rumor, spread via a newswire article, claimed that Qatar, which lost 3-4 to Vietnam in a penalty shootout following a tense 2-2 semifinal draw on Tuesday, would replace the Vietnamese in the final game.
According to a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter who has accompanied Vietnam U23s in China since the beginning of the tournament, the ‘fake news’ story was written based on only one fact: two Vietnamese players were selected for a required random doping test following their semi match.
However, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy and Do Duy Manh, both of whom emerged as stars in Vietnam’s victory over Qatar on Tuesday, tested negative for performance enhancing drugs.
As per the competition's regulations, each team is required to submit two or more of its players, depending on the playing schedule, to random doping tests after each game, regardless of whether they win or lose, a representative from the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) told Tuoi Tre via an email.
The AFC official asserted that all teams are treated equal when it comes to drug testing.
The players’ urine sample was first tested with a stick to check for immediate results before being sent to a lab for a more detailed examination.
Manh and Duy both tested negative in the preliminary check. The results of the lab test will not be available for another month.
A Vietnam Football Federation official told Tuoi Tre that all food consumed by the U23 team during their time in China has been checked and approved by relevant Vietnamese agencies and their safety is guaranteed.
Vietnam have been wowing fans at home and across the continent with its fairytale run in the AFC U23 Championship, where giants such as Australia, Japan, China and South Korea were all eliminated.
The Golden Stars beat Australia 1-0 in the group stage before upsetting Iraq and Qatar to qualify for the final game with Uzbekistan, which also edged out Japan, China, and South Korea on their path to the competition’s very last game.
The final clash will be broadcast live at 3:00 pm on January 27, Vietnam time.