Wednesday 21 August 2019

Wenger: Football has hidden drugs problem

Arsene Wenger has regularly called for more sophisticated testing in football
Arsene Wenger has regularly called for more sophisticated testing in football

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has outlined his fear that doping in football is a serious but largely undetected problem.

A World Anti-Doping Agency commission report has this week accused Russia of running a "state-sponsored" doping programme and commission chairman Dick Pound also said that "it's probably the tip of the iceberg".

He added: "Russia is not the only country and athletics is not the only sport with a doping problem."

Wenger has already said that Arsenal were unfairly beaten in the Champions League this season by a "doped" opponent after Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Arijan Ademi failed a drugs test after the game.

UEFA is still investigating Ademi's 'B' sample before ruling on the case, with a hearing set for November 19.

Wenger believes there is a wider issue in football.

In an interview for 'L'Equipe', he said: "In 30 years as a manager, I've never had my players injected to make them better. I never gave them any product that would help enhance their performance.

"I'm proud of that, but I've played against many teams that weren't in that frame of mind. For me, the beauty of sport is that everyone wants to win, but there will only be one winner.

"We have reached an era in which we glorify the winner, without looking at the means or the method.

"Ten years later we realise the guy was a cheat. And during that time, the one that came second suffered. He didn't get recognition. And, with all that's been said about them, they can be very unhappy."

Wenger has regularly called for more sophisticated testing in football and, more than two years ago, warned journalists that sport was already "full of legends who are in fact cheats".

Although UEFA do test the blood and urine of randomly selected players both in and out of competition, they test only two players from each squad after European matches and then only when they have the medical officials on site.

The sanctions against teams have also come under scrutiny.

If more than one player tests positive from a team during a competition period, UEFA will introduce what they call "appropriate target testing".

However, more than two players in the same club must test positive during a competition period for there to be a collective sanction and potential disqualification.

Zagreb issued a statement following Ademi's test in which they said that their players had been regularly subjected to doping controls and that "never before has anything like this happened".

They also said that Ademi had been tested six times in the last year and produced only negative results.

UEFA was also moved to deny suggestions of wider a doping issue in football earlier in the season after a study it commissioned found high levels of testosterone in dozens of players.

Researchers analysing 4,195 urine samples from 879 footballers, mainly those playing in the Champions League and Europa League, saw 7.7pc return high levels of the hormone.

UEFA, though, insisted that no definitive conclusions could be drawn from the study, which was first published in the medical magazine 'Drugs Testing and Analysis' in September, while no player faces sanctions because the samples were provided anonymously.

The governing body said no B sample was taken and no additional analysis was undertaken to confirm whether the high levels of testosterone were due to doping or not.

However, it did admit the study carried out between 2008 and 2013 involving scientists from 12 anti-doping laboratories in Europe had influenced its decision to introduce the World Anti-Doping Agency's steroid passport in its competitions this season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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