Sunday 25 August 2019

Arsene Wenger calls for mandatory blood testing on all players after every match

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

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger has called for there to be mandatory blood testing on all players after every match and is adamant that clubs, as well as individual players, must be sanctioned for positive results.

The Football Association have contacted Wenger and asked him to elaborate on his claim that doping is a significant problem in football and he will respond by urging the governing bodies at national, European and international level to conduct wider tests and impose stricter sanctions.

“I am open to talk to the FA,” he said. “You've seen that a doping problem suddenly turned up in track and field. We have a problem in cycling and to think we in football are just immune because we are football players is absolutely wrong. What I want is deeper tests, better tests, because what we test is superficial.

“As well, when people are caught I want that they are punished and that the clubs are punished as well. We have to tackle these problems and not to close our eyes, because it's a little bit unreasonable to think just because we are football we have no problems with it.”

A World Anti-Doping Agency commission report has accused Russia of running a "state-sponsored" doping programme but the 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 following news that the Dinamo Zagreb midfielder, Arijan Ademi, failed a drugs test after the game.

Although Uefa do test the blood and urine of randomly selected players both in and out of competition, they only test two players on 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.

Wenger believes that the current testing programme needs to be reviewed. “Today, when you play away in the Champions League, most of the time we lose two hours when there is a doping control because people cannot fulfil the (urine) tests,” he said. “With a little blood test it takes a minute and you can test for much more. Why can we not do it? In the other sports they do it.”

The FA says that they operate “one of the most comprehensive anti-doping testing programmes in the world”. They include urine and blood testing both in and out of competition, as well as steroid and blood profiling.

Wenger today also confirmed that Hector Bellerin will return to the Arsenal squad against West Brom on Saturday following injury but Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were still out.

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