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Our beloved football in the Age of Doping?

Gianluca Vialli avoids the press after a hearing


Lately the Italian Serie A, perhaps the most prestigious regional competition on Earth, has faced the scandal around the unappropiate use of forbidden drugs.


The issue first saw the light as a consequence of Czech coach Zdenek Zemanī statement. Zeman, who has been training Italian squadras for the last 17 years, shocked the media by suggesting that doping is present in the Italian League. He also speculated about some players for current champions Juventus FC, more specifically Alessandro Del Piero and ex-juventino Gianluca Vialli and their use of illegal drugs in order to improve their skills.


The controversy got started and now Italy is more focussed on that matter than the near beginning of the season. Instantly, the accusation got to the DistrictsīAttorney of the city of Turin and sparked all over the place even getting to the very Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI) to disclose it as soon as possible. Juventus, the most accused club by Zemanīs words, told their players to go testify at once and so they did: attorney of Turin, Raffaele Guariniello received the comparescence of both Del Piero and Vialli, who declared that their physical state was merely product of their respective efforts, hard work and professionalism.


So did world champion Didier Deschamps, whose say that "the life of a Juventus player is extremely short" took him to the stand. The authorities of the club presided by industrial and "magnate" Gianni Agnelli were upset about Zemanīs conduct and claimed for legal actions, remarking the fact that every Juve player has only worked hard to get in the shape they are. But the Italian justice is behind the doctor of the squadra, Riccardo Agricola. Several Juve players, like Iuliano, Pecchia and Fonseca informed the Judge the substances they have taken at the Turinese club.


The targetted substance is no other than the creatine, an aminoacid which has reconstitutive powers and takes part in the process of muscle contraction. It is allowed, of legal use by the UEFA vademecum and claimed to be supplied by many of the Serie A teams, as Zeman -current AS Roma allenatore- said to the Italian media. And he appears to be supported by colleagues inside the league, like Luigi Simoni of Inter and former Napoli coach Giovanni Galeone. They all insist in forbidding the use of creatine and other substances in the Italian Championship, and an exhaustive review of the issue to enlighten the actions at once, in order to "get the football out of the pharmacies".


This is absolutely agreed by the Italian Justice and the CONI, as anti-doping attorney Ugo Longo pursues. Some players -like Brazilian star Ronaldo- were cooperative and some others werenīt, claiming "unacceptable damage" the position of Zeman and avoiding the procedures. All these fireworks are certainly increasing the pressure in the Lega Calcio thatīs about to start, facing sport and scandal gathered together in a shameful way.


My humble viewpoint is ... forget all the gossip, circus and the vulgar accusations thrown, get rid of all those difamations and figure this out. If the Italian League -and many others- is experiencing a serious controversy on the suppying of drugs to the players, the authorities are in title and must do something about it. They have to clarify which substances are harmful to the sportsman and human being and which are set to be forbidden, if their effects are confirmed. It claims for a serious examination and clear rules from now on.


To me, drugs and football could never get along very well. Our beloved sport will be losing its nobility and dirt will be over the carpet of tradition; I can see the pictures of skinny Filippo Inzaghi with his shirt almost exploding and jumping like Shaquille OīNeal to get a killing header. I can see young players with their careers screwed by the drugs ingesta both legal and illegal; perhaps I donīt like the extremes of professionalism that football is reaching, perhaps I should refuse to keep watching the "competitive" leagues and stay with amateur football only. Gosh I donīt know! I may be needing some time to think....


Fernando Troiani

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