Qatar authorities have confirmed their first drug seizure during the football World Cup.
On Monday, customs officers uncovered a haul of the painkiller tramadol, which has been widely used in football, and 16.4 ounces of hashish.
Customs authorities at Hamad International Airport confirmed they had “foiled the smuggling” of 1,990 tramadol pills and the hashish.
The illicit substances were found when customs officials “suspected” a passenger and inspected the luggage, the customs service said in its statement.
“The Customs Department of Hamad International Airport thwarted the smuggling of tramadol and narcotic cannabis,” the statement said.
“The customs officer suspected the traveller’s luggage. Upon inspection, 1,990 tramadol pills were found, as well as narcotic hashish, which weighed 464.5 grams.”
According to AFP, the nationality of the alleged smuggler nationality was not given, but they will appear in court.
Qatar has predicted more than one million fans to enter the Gulf state for the month-long tournament that concludes on December 18.
Qatar has strict laws on drug possession which include lengthy prison terms, significant fines and deportation or even the death penalty.
New scanners were reportedly installed at the Hamad International Airport, which officials claimed can detect “residual amounts on baggage”.
Qatar also has a different classification system for prescription drugs common and legal in western society – such as Xanax and Valium – meaning that without a thorough “doctor’s report”, they are subject to the same severe penalties as other prohibited narcotics.
The World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] is set to add tramadol, an addictive synthetic opiate, to its banned list in 2024.
It is already prohibited in cycling.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland said in media interviews this year that he spiralled into a deep depression because of tramadol abuse.