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Conviction of Juventus doctor in doping case leaves team off hook
Posted: Tuesday December 7, 2004 5:44PM; Updated: Tuesday December 7, 2004 5:44PM





Zinedine Zidane testified that he needed to take vitamins intravenously to get through 70 games a year with Juventus.


A few columns ago, I wrote about Adrian Mutu's positive cocaine test and how recreational drug use should not be punished in the same way as the taking of performance-enhancing drugs. Reactions were mixed: some supportive shouts and some who accused me of being the devil incarnate.

The recent verdict in Juventus' trial for "sporting fraud" neatly highlights the difference between the two and how bizarre it is that Mutu -- who did not cheat -- received a hefty sentence, whereas the Italian club, whose actions were much more disturbing, is likely to get off unscathed.

The court in Turin which heard Juve's case sentenced club doctor Riccardo Agricola to 22 months in prison, while his boss, Juventus chief executive Antonio Giraudo, was acquitted. That's the first and most obvious inconsistency. Unless you believe that the team doctor was acting on his own, paying for the 281 different drugs found at Juve's training out of his own pocket and doing it all unbeknownst to club officials, it's hard to justify the verdict. Indeed, it does seem as if he was the fall guy in this case.

The case related to events at Juventus between 1994 and 1998, a period during which the club won three Italian titles, a Champions' League crown, an Italian Cup and a European SuperCup. According to testimony, Juve's doctors regularly prescribed pharmaceutical cocktails to their players which, as one witness said, meant that "either the players were always sick or they took drugs without justification ... to improve performance."
This is where things get sticky. The vast majority of the drugs in question were not on anyone's list of banned substances. They were, however, prescription drugs which were meant to treat illnesses or pathologies, not substances to be taken by healthy athletes. And here we get into an issue of medical ethics. Many athletes have taken similar substances to treat legitimate illnesses or conditions. Where do you draw the line? Should it be down to a doctor's conscience whether these drugs ought to be prescribed? Or should athletes be denied access to certain substances unless some kind of independent arbitrator can confirm that they are indeed necessary?

And how do you determine if treatment is necessary? One of the drugs liberally administered at Juventus during those years is normally used to treat depression. It would be common sense to assume that depression wasn't a team-wide problem. But how can anyone be sure? Should clubs subject their players to psychiatric evaluations in order to access the anti-psychotic drugs?

The point here is that it seems pretty obvious that Juventus violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The only evidence that some sporting regulations may have been broken as well lies in the fact that internal drug tests revealed that some players had unnaturally high cell readings, suggesting that they may have been given the now notorious banned drug erythropoietin (EPO). But no EPO was found on Juve's premises and not a single Juventus player failed a drug test between 1994 and 1998.

Deciding what should happen next is far from easy. Louis van Gaal, whose Ajax side lost the '96 Champions' League final to Juve, insists that the bianconeri should be stripped of the trophy. Gianfranco Zola, whose Parma side finished runners-up to Juve in '94-95 is equally angry.

"It's a disgrace," he said. "At Parma we all worked so hard and we did it legally. When you compete and lose to players who use drugs to cheat, well, it hurts. A lot."

Juventus, most likely, won't be stripped of any trophies. Nor will '98 World Cup winner France, two of whose keys players, Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps were at Juve at the time. The verdict could yet be overturned on appeal and, in any case, it's likely to exceed the statute of limitations.

But the damage that Juventus has done to the game and to its own image won't be going away any time soon, even if, on appeal, the court finds that no laws were broken. The shadow of suspicion will tarnish that era in Juve's otherwise glorious history for a long time to come.



This report suggest that Zidane and other Juve players might have been taking Performance Enhancement Supplements like EPO during 94-98. For Zidane that would include the WC98. WOW!!!!
 

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This is old news. Everyone knows Juve cheated during that period. Everyone knows that they will get away with it too.
 

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Koeman4 said:
It's hard to believe that only the medician is guilty... really hard to believe.
but not hard to believe he would be the scapegoat, when this news first arised more than a year ago (I think) many already then said that they would put him as the scapegoat to clear all others and the club. Altough the club will never be cleared when it comes to us, the fans.
 

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Demandred said:
This is old news. Everyone knows Juve cheated during that period. Everyone knows that they will get away with it too.
I will never forget how they cheated Ronaldo and Inter out of the scudetto in 1997.

:thmbdown:
 

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RayLewis52 said:
This report suggest that Zidane and other Juve players might have been taking Performance Enhancement Supplements like EPO during 94-98. For Zidane that would include the WC98. WOW!!!!
I hope for the guy who wrote this report that Juventus won't read this report.
There is no proof at all that the players of Juventus took EPO.
And I wonder how is it possible that:
internal drug tests revealed that some players had unnaturally high cell readings, suggesting that they may have been given the now notorious banned drug erythropoietin (EPO)
and:
not a single Juventus player failed a drug test between 1994 and 1998
 

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Zidane didn't fail a drug test at Juventus, and he didn't fail a drug test during his Real Madrid medical before he signed for $86.4m.

Zidane is definitely all-clear.

Del Piero on the other hand....
 

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El Fenómeno. said:
Zidane didn't fail a drug test at Juventus, and he didn't fail a drug test during his Real Madrid medical before he signed for $86.4m.

Zidane is definitely all-clear.

Del Piero on the other hand....
... the same, since he has never failed a drug test too.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
ToniSamp said:
I hope for the guy who wrote this report that Juventus won't read this report.
There is no proof at all that the players of Juventus took EPO.
And I wonder how is it possible that:

and:


There is no proof. But, you cannot say that a player who played for Juve during that period didn't take any drugs simply because they didn't fail a drug test. Where they testing for EPO back then? Look at the [email protected] storm that is around Barry Bonds(Baseball player) and Marion Jones(Sprinter). They never failed a drug test, but it's being proven that Bonds did take steriods and the chemist says Marion did too. They are in trouble because someone ratted to the feds(by giving them a sample of the steriods) about "The Clear" and "The Cream" steriods. I am not suggesting for a fact that Zidane, Del Piero or any other Juve player took steriods. But, where there is smoke there is fire!
 

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El Fenómeno. said:
Zidane didn't fail a drug test at Juventus, and he didn't fail a drug test during his Real Madrid medical before he signed for $86.4m.

Zidane is definitely all-clear.

Del Piero on the other hand....
Elaborate please. What makes Zidane all-clear and Del Piero guilty? I'm all ears!
 

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RayLewis52 said:
There is no proof. But, you cannot say that a player who played for Juve during that period didn't take any drugs simply because they didn't fail a drug test. Where they testing for EPO back then? Look at the [email protected] storm that is around Barry Bonds(Baseball player) and Marion Jones(Sprinter). They never failed a drug test, but it's being proven that Bonds did take steriods and the chemist says Marion did too. They are in trouble because someone ratted to the feds(by giving them a sample of the steriods) about "The Clear" and "The Cream" steriods. I am not suggesting for a fact that Zidane, Del Piero or any other Juve player took steriods. But, where there is smoke there is fire!
Unless the smoke is due to my granpa smoking his pipe.
My opinion is that no one is guilty till there are no evidences of it. I cannot say that a player of Juve during that period did not take any drugs, but I don't need evidences for that, while who states the contrary needs evidences.
 
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