Arsène Wenger has again voiced his concern that it is a serious issue in football, saying in an interview with L’Equipe that he has “played against many teams” that use performance-enhancing drugs.
In September his Arsenal side lost 2-1 at Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, with the Dinamo midfielder Arijan Ademi, who played the full 90 minutes, failing a drug test after the game. “When I saw that the players of Zagreb were doped – well, when you don’t play at your best and your opponent is doped, it is difficult,” he said last month.
“I try to be faithful to the values that I believe to be important in life and to pass them on to others,” Wenger told L’Equipe. “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.
“For me, the beauty of sport is that everyone wants to win, but there will only be one winner. We have reached an era in which we glorify the winner, without looking at the means or the method. And 10 years later we realize the guy was a cheat. And during that time, the one that came second suffered. He didn’t get recognition. And, with all that’s been said about them, they can be very unhappy.”
Two years ago Wenger said that sport was “full of legends who are in fact cheats” as he called on Uefa to improve its drug testing programme. “Honestly, I don’t think we do enough [on doping tests],” he said. “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 [matches], they do not take blood, they take only urine. I have asked many times in Geneva [for that to be changed]. I hope we do not have a big problem with doping but we have to try to find out.”
Wenger was embroiled in a doping controversy of his own in 2011, when the former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson told the French magazine So Foot that “on the night before big games we would go to a Holiday Inn in Islington where a yellowy product was injected into our arm. I never asked any questions. From the moment you trust a manager you take everything he asks you to.”
At the time an Arsenal spokesman said the substance was a “simple multivitamin injection”, while Wenger angrily denied the story, saying: “If you find one player who I asked to take an injection to play one game, no matter how big the game was, I would resign tomorrow morning.”