Sport Soccer

Sunday 25 February 2018

Wenger convinced game engulfed by 'tsunami' of cheats

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger has issued a stark wake-up call to the football authorities over the issues of doping and match-fixing, claiming that sport has become "full of legends who are, in fact, cheats."

The Arsenal manager also revealed his belief that cheating has been widespread in football for decades and wants the anti-doping controls to include regular in-competition testing of the players' blood as well as urine.

As manager of Monaco at the time of the Marseille scandal in 1993, Wenger has been among the victims of serious corruption in football, but was still taken aback by the scale of the Europol match-fixing investigation, which has identified 360 suspect games.

"It's a real tsunami," he said. "I can't accept it and I always was a believer that there's a lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens, nor with the doping, nor with the corruption of the referees, nor with the match fixing.

"It's time that we tackle this problem in a very serious way and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way.

"You cannot accept that somebody who works the whole week decides to spend his money to go to a game and you cheat him because all is decided before he gets to the stand."

Wenger has also closely followed the case of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who is on trial over allegations that he doped cyclists.

As well as cyclists, tennis players, athletes and boxers, Fuentes has confirmed that footballers were among his clients. Inaki Badiola, the former Real Sociedad president, has also alleged that the club made payments to Fuentes of about £280,000 a year before he became president.

Fuentes denies being involved in doping and Wenger is frustrated that the trial will not force him to reveal the identities of the people he treated.

"They have found pockets of blood, but they don't even ask to whom do they belong," said Wenger.

"They are not interested at all. The justice should go deeper. When you look at the functions of this doctor it is quite scary. He was involved in the Olympic team, football team and cycling team."

Asked if football's drug testing programme was sufficient, Wenger said: "Honestly, I don't think we do enough. It is very difficult for me to believe that you have 740 players in the World Cup and you come out with zero problems.


"Look at psychological tests that have been done on people who are at the top in all sports. When they ask them if they would take a product that would guarantee them a gold medal or a world championship, but mean that they died in the next five years, 50pc say 'yes'.

"If you go to amateur level and do that test, only 2pc say they would take it. That is quite scary. That is how far people are ready to go to win in all sports. We are at the level where people are ready to do anything to win."

Wenger could not say whether English football was immune from a doping problem, but his experiences do make him believe that match-fixing is not an issue there. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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