By Tony Attwood
You’ll recall that Dinamo Zagreb’s Arijan Ademi failed a drug test after playing in the team that beat Arsenal in the Champions League group stage. Despite the fact that he played the full game nothing was done to the club that employs him and nothing was done about the result. Dinamo Zagreb later announced that the Ademi was given a four-year ban from football by Uefa. Clubs, it seems, are not responsible for their players’ actions. (Unless it’s Arsenal when a two point deduction for a bit of argy-bargy is not unknown).
There have long been worries about drugs testing in football and comments have abounded to suggest that clubs routinely arrange for players to be “injured” when the Independent Sampling Officers turn up for routine tests. Thus the only way players get caught is by being tested after a game – and that only happens very rarely.
Certainly compared to other sports in the UK, footballers are rarely tested. But action can occasionally be taken against the individuals – as with Rio Ferdinand who missed a drugs test in September 2003 and was banned for eight months. Kolo Toure got a six-month ban from all football for failing a drugs test.
And yet now, with a Liverpool! player being caught out there is talk of “missing the rest of the season” rather than the four years. Not much of a surprise though – that is how it goes.
Meanwhile the World Anti-Doping Agency’s president, John Fahey, and director-general, David Howman, have both said that football’s testing procedures are not rigorous enough, and that Premier League players are not tested often enough. They also note that some “Team sports players can go their entire career without being tested once.”
Some players are caught however. Mark Marshall of Barnet received a two-year ban for testing positive for methylhexaneamine. Tests revealing cannabis however often end up with a one month ban, the players’ identity hidden.
Fifa carries out the drug-testing in international competitions and claims 0.07% of players, tested positive for performance-enhancing anabolic and hormonal drugs. 0.14% tested positive for social drugs.
Meanwhile the culture secretary (the UK government minister responsible for sport), John Whittingdale, has ordered an inquiry into the UK Anti-Doping agency (Ukad) itself, over accusations it failed to respond to doping allegations linked to 150 elite sports people.
The allegations come amid the suggestions that Dr Mark Bonar prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs to Premier League footballers, and that Ukad had not acted on evidence received two years ago.
The claim includes the notion that the doctor had provided “doping services” to unnamed players in various clubs including Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea. Dr Bonar already faces a disciplinary hearing for malpractice in the care of the cancer patient
Arsenal’s statement at the time said, “Arsenal Football Club is extremely disappointed by the publication of these false claims which are without foundation. The Sunday Times knows that these allegations are baseless but has preferred to publish regardless. The club takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously and our players are well aware of what is expected. We strictly adhere to all guidelines set by the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
Mr Whittingdale said at the time, ‘There is no room for complacency in the fight against doping and the Government is already looking at whether existing legislation in this area goes far enough. If it becomes clear that stronger criminal sanctions are needed then we will not hesitate to act.’
This is an area that the web site Football is Fixed has been involved in, recently saying, “We were the first media outlet to disclose the use of PESs at Leicester City in our ‘Webb Of Lies’ published on Football is Fixed on February 6th 2016″. Sadly, that comment leads to a link which when clicked gives us “We, The Arbitrageurs Of The NeoHyperrealities Of Post-Structuralist Football – Exposing Corruption Since 2006 – Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist,” so I am not able to report further on that line of enquiry.
Indeed I am getting a bit concerned about the accuracy of some of FIF’s commentaries as it has also suggested that because of the involvement of one journalist at the Guardian, the paper totally failed to mention that Leicester was one of the clubs implicated in the Bonar allegations. And yet in an article that is still on the internet on the Guardian’s web site and is headed Guardian sport and Press Association
I’m certainly not an apologist for the Guardian, but in my view, if one is going to attack the papers for their approach to football (and if you are a regular reader you will know that is something I do feel is worth doing) one needs to be a little careful about the accusations made.
- Sunderland – Arsenal 0-0 scoring boots stayed in London
- The agenda is changing as the Guardian and Telegraph pick up the issue of referee accuracy.
Two from the anniversary files
25 April 1895: Royal Ordnance Factories 0 Woolwich Arsenal 0. In 1892/3 Arsenal was embroiled in a battle with their ground landlord and his supporters inside the club, which resulted ultimately in Woolwich Arsenal joining the Football League while the landlord and others formed a new club (ROF FC) and joining the Southern League. They played on grounds opposite each other and this match showed they were at least talking to each other by this date. Further matches followed.
25 April 2004. Arsenal won the League, at White Hart Lane, for the second time since Tottenham last won the league. The score was Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2 and this was the 34th league game of the unbeaten season. Lehmann (having conceded a penalty in the 94th minute) failed to return to the pitch to celebrate afterwards. Vieira and Pires got the goals.