In Depth

Does football have a doping problem? Wenger speaks out

Arsenal boss insists he keeps his players clean, but not all teams are 'of that frame of mind'

As the fallout continues from Monday's shocking revelations about Russia running a state-sponsored doping programme for its athletes, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has expressed his concerns that it's not just athletics and cycling that are tainted by cheats.

In announcing the findings of his World Anti-Doping Agency commission report on Monday, Dick Pound warned "it's probably the tip of the iceberg". Asked to elaborate he said: "Russia is not the only country and athletics is not the only sport with a doping problem."

Earlier this year the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD reported concerns that over a five-year period 68 top level footballers from around Europe "exhibited 'atypical' drug test results that indicated the possible use of banned steroids". The Sunday Times and ARD are the two media outlets credited with exposing Russia's doping programme. Their claims about athletics were initially dismissed by Lord Coe, the president of the IAAF.

With fears of a football doping scandal on the rise, the Daily Telegraph reports the comments of Wenger, who told French sports daily L'Equipe: "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."

Earlier this season Arsenal lost in the Champions League to Dinamo Zagreb. After the match Zagreb midfielder Arijan Ademi failed a drugs test and according to the Telegraph Uefa is "still investigating" Ademi's 'B' sample before announcing their decision on 19 November.

Meanwhile, Wenger has said sport in general must not lose its moral bearings as the stakes in all sports get higher. "For me, the beauty of sport is that everyone wants to win, but... we have reached an era in which we glorify the winner, without looking at the means or the method," explained the Arsenal manager.

It's not the first time that Wenger has spoken out about doping. In [3]February 2013 he said sport was "full of legends who are in fact cheats", a reference to the Lance Armstrong scandal. When he was asked if football if was doing enough to root out drugs cheats, he added: "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. Mathematically, that happens every time. But statistically, even for social drugs, it looks like we would do better to go deeper."

Uefa tests randomly selected players throughout the year but they only test two players on each squad after European matches. As Wenger said in 2013 he wants more regular and comprehensive testing. "When you have a doping control at Uefa they do not take blood, they take only urine," he complained. "I have asked many times in Geneva [for a change]. Sometimes you have to wait for two hours after the game, so blood could be a lot quicker. I hope we do not have a big problem with doping but we have to try to see how deep we can go into control."

Uefa, which has recently started to introduce blood testing, is already on the defensive following a study that analysed urine samples from nearly 900 footballers between 2008 and 2013, reported the Telegraph in September. The samples mainly came from players in teams in the Champions League and Europa League. Of that number 7.7 per cent returned high levels of the hormone testosterone.

That prompted claims from German TV and the Sunday Times - the two media outlets that uncovered the athletics doping scandal - that drug-taking by football's top players could be at a significant level. Uefa claimed "that no definitive conclusions could be drawn from the study".

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