Arsène Wenger says football needs blood testing to catch the doping cheats
Arsenal manager also causes for tougher measures to combat corruption in wake of match-fixing allegations
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has called for footballers to be blood tested to combat doping in the sport, and has also said that tougher measures need to be implemented to combat wider corruption such as match-fixing.
"Honestly, I don't think we do enough [regarding doping controls in football]" said Wenger, quoted in the Guardian.
"It is very difficult for me to believe that you have 740 players at 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.
"I hope England is immune from doping but I don't know. When you have a doping control at UEFA [games], they do not take blood, they take only urine.”
Wenger said that “many times” he had appealed to UEFA, which is based near Geneva, Switzerland, to review the situation.
“Sometimes, you have to wait for two hours after the game [for a urine sample to be provided], so blood could also be a lot quicker,” he added.
"I hope we do not have a big problem with doping but we have to try to find out and see how deep we can go into control.
“I would support blood testing,” he went on. “UEFA are ready to do it but it poses some ethical problems because everyone has to accept that they will check the blood and not everybody is ready to do that."
The Frenchman was speaking at the end of a week in which investigators from Europol said they had identified 380 football matches where they believed Asian gambling syndicates had influenced the outcome.
In recent days, the Australian Crime Commission has also published a report highlighting links between organised crime and doping across a range of professional sport.
His comments also coincide with the ongoing Operacion Puerto trial in Madrid, at which Dr Eufemiano Fuentes has confirmed that he numbered footballers among his clients.
So far, the judge in that case has declined Fuentes’s offer to name names. The former chairman of Basque club Real Sociedad has claimed that players from that team engaged in doping between 2001 and 2007, an allegation rejected by his predecessor who oversaw the club at the time in question.
While Fuentes has always insisted that cyclists only represented three in ten of his clients, the Spanish authorities have been disinclined to investigate athletes from other sports including football and tennis who are said to have been implicated.
Moreover, since doping was not criminalised in Spain at the time Operacion Puerto was being conducted – the investigation was made public in 2006 – the charges that Fuentes and others are standing trial on relate to public health offences, rather than doping itself, a distinction not lost on Wenger.
"The Spanish doctor is in front of the justice just to see how he did doping," the Arsenal manager explained. "They are not interested at all in who he has doped.
“They have found pockets of blood but they don't even ask to whom does that belong. 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, cycling team."
Regarding Europol’s findings of widespread corruption in European football, he said: "For me, it's a real tsunami.
"I was always a believer that there's a lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens … not with the doping, not with the corruption of referees, not 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 as well.
“You cannot accept that somebody works the whole week to spend his money to go to a game and he is cheated, because all is decided before he gets to the stand.
“But I don't think at all that cheating or match-fixing is a problem in the English game,” he concluded.