The specter of doping is resurfacing with force in Italy. First there were the countless players in the 1970s who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Charcot’s disease, whose rate of illness was 20 times higher than in the Italian population. There are also the 90s. The recent deaths of Sinisa Mihajlovic (53 years old) from leukemia, then of Gianluca Vialli (58 years old) only a few days later from pancreatic cancer, cause trouble, which is strongly revived by Dino Baggio. The former flagship midfielder of Squadra Azzurra (60 caps, 7 goals between 1991 and 1999), now 51, accuses a generalized doping system in Serie A during this time. According to him, this could be the cause of the premature disappearances of his two former teammates (at Juventus between 19992 and 1994 for Vialli and at Lazio between 2000 and 2003 for Mihajlovic).
“We need to go back to what we took, we need to investigate a little bit about the substances taken during these timesrises on the chain TV7. I don’t know if it’s due to that, but there has always been doping. We never took weird stuff because there was a percentage you had to respect. But over time, you have to see if certain substances are good or not, if they can be eliminated or remain inside the body. I’m also afraid, it happens to too many players. In my years, there was too much doping. Charges that break a certain taboo, even if they are not the first. The 94 world vice-champion went back a bit on his remarks yesterday, rectifying the ” doping substances “ in “pharmacological substances” allowed. The root of the problem remains the same. It also divides players of that era.
Former players divided
“Dino is a very dear friend and a person with whom I have shared many joys. But there is no evidence of a relationship between the use of certain substances and the appearance of malignant formations, these are conjectures. I can understand that we can have fears. But if there is no basis for these assumptions. These are not nice things to say.regrets the former teammate in Parma de Baggio, Alberto Di Chiara in the columns of the Gazzetta dello Sport. A point of view that does not share another ex-Palermitan, Alessandro Melli. “I know Dino. He told me that too after Vialli’s death. If he says so, he must have seen it with his own eyes. My reaction ? I said to him: “I hope that if what you say is true, you were perceptive and intelligent not to use them (these products, editor’s note)”. And he certainly didn’t. We have to go back to what we took, investigate a little about the substances taken at that time.
A 30-year history that Italy sometimes refuses to look at. It does exist, however, as evidenced by the actors of Serie A of that time when this championship was reputed to be the best in the world. There was even a trial in the early 2000s, the so-called Juventus one, where key team players like Didier Deschamps and Zinédine Zidane were auditioned. The Turin court had sentenced Riccardo Agricola, Juventus’ chief medical officer, to one year and ten months in prison, in addition to a ban on practicing for sports fraud, abusive and dangerous use of drugs for health outside any therapeutic justification and systematic and intensive administration of erythropoietin (EPO). A stroke of the sword in reality because a year later, the doctor was released due to a formal defect. At the time of the events (between 1994 and 1998), EPO was not yet considered a doping product…
The famous Juventus pharmacy
It took until 2000 for Italian legislation to adopt a text criminalizing doping. The expert report by hematologist Giuseppe D’Onofrio had nevertheless concluded that the use “systematic and intensive” of EPO based on an in-depth study of variations in the blood parameters of 49 players. “At Juve, there were a lot of products, even in infusion. But of all the products that the players mentioned to me, they never gave me the name of a doping product” testified Jean-Marcel Ferret, the doctor of the France team between 1993 and 2004, questioned by the Senate in 2013 during a commission of inquiry into the effectiveness of the fight against doping, all the same evoking methods medical “more aggressive” in Italy than in France. “When you give them an injection, the players don’t ask what it is” he explained later.
Injections of Neoton (creatine) already reported by Zidane during his hearing before the judge in Turin in January 2004, in addition to infusions of vitamin cocktails or Esafosfina, a drug intended for seriously ill patients undergoing transfusion or affected chronic alcoholism, prolonged malnutrition, chronic respiratory failure and ischemic cardiomyopathies. “Infusions are useful, otherwise how would we play 70 games during the year” justified the former number 10 of the Blues. The Juventus scandal exploded in the summer of 98, immediately after the French victory in the World Cup and the Festina affair which torpedoed the Tour de France cycling. Above all, it was born from a bomb dropped by Zdenek Zeman, then coach of Roma. “Calcio must come out of pharmacies.” 281 products such as stimulants, corticosteroids, or hormones had been found in that of Juve.
A subject still taboo in Italy
The Italian justice had also questioned Gianluca Vialli who had qualified the coach of the Wolf of “terrorist”, and to ask the Italian federation to suspend him for five years. He obviously did not win the case but held a stubborn grudge against the Czech technician. “He is a very intelligent person, but also a great opportunist. He fights the battles that suit him and forgets the others. I have never forgiven him for his accusations of doping on my career and that of Del Piero, and he still has not apologized. said Vialli in 2012. A hypocritical indignation which actually lifted the veil on certain practices in Italy. Zeman never wavered, putting the subject back on the table between the two deaths of former glories.
“With Sinisa (Mihajlovic) we had a good relationship, a special friendship. When he was at Roma we saw each other often. (…) I am sorry for the state of health of Gianluca Vialli and for all those who are sick. He is the representative of an important era in Italian football, I’m sorry.” he declared, not hiding his disappointment that the subject was too often denied. “It depends on who says certain things. As soon as I open my mouth, controversies are always created by other people. I don’t do them. If I speak, I do so to try to help football and sport.” concluded the 75-year-old man in remarks reported by the agency ANSA. He passed the baton. From now on, it is Dino Baggio who is kicking the anthill again, but once again not everyone seems ready to look this truth in the face yet.