Arsene Wenger claims doping is rife in football
Arsenal manager believes that while his side have never doped, they have played 'plenty of teams who were not in that frame of mind'
Arsène 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 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.
Uefa are still investigating Ademi’s ‘B’ sample before ruling on the case – and a hearing has been set for Nov 19 – but Wenger believes that there is a wider issue in football.
In an interview for L’Equipe, he said. “I try to be faithful to the values that I believe to be important in life and to pass them on to others. 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. 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. And, 10 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 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.
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 7.7 per cent 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.
“The study simply shows that the introduction of steroidal biological passport in football would be beneficial by offering further analysis possibilities in case of atypical test results,” said a Uefa statement. “Uefa has had a very thorough anti-doping programme for many years with over 2,000 tests a year and only two occurrence of positive tests, both for recreational drugs, which proves that doping in football is extremely rare.”