Monday in Spanish football usually means a slow-news day; after the La Liga games on Saturday and Sunday, the new week is usually spent on recovery or players are given a day off. But the Monday of March 14 was totally different as doping in Spanish football became the hot topic of the day. It all started on Sunday when Spanish radio station Cadena Cope in the programme “El partido de las doce” broadcasted the information that Real Madrid would ask Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for more serious doping controls in Spanish football. The programme said that two clubs, FC Barcelona and Valencia CF, collaborate with doctors “who are less than reputable“.
As was easy to predict, such insinuations opened a public discussion about doping control. Both accused clubs released official statements denying doping practices and demanded an immediate rectification.
An official statement on the club’s site read:
“In response to the grave insinuations broadcast on Sunday night on the Cadena Cope radio station, FC Barcelona wishes to publically express its total indignation at these unfounded references which link the Club to doping practices and to condemn such attitudes, which have nothing to do with fair play and gravely affect the image of sporting competition.
“FC Barcelona is demanding an immediate rectification and wishes to let it be known that its legal department is studying possible legal action to defend the Club’s honour, alongside that of its coaching staff, players and medical staff and is prepared to take such action to its final consequences.”
Valencia CF also denied collaborating in any way with Eufemiano Fuentes (Spanish sports doctor best known for being implicated in the Operación Puerto doping case). The club was accused of having worked with Fuentes in years when Valencia won league titles (2001-02, 2003-04).
Speaking to RAC1 radio, Dr Ramon Segura, professor emeritus of the Universitiy of Barcelona and nutrition consultant for FCB, denied that shakes visible in some pictures of first team players contained any kind of drugs. “In these shakes are sugar, carbs, proteins and vitamins. It’s not a secret, it’s simple food that players need after training and big loss of energy.” Segura also added that doping has nothing to do with food and eating sugar cannot be treated as an element of doping.
Secretary of State and President of the Higher Council for Sports Jaime Lissavetzky, who is also European representative for the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee, said that “Spanish football is absolutely clean” of doping and assured that there are number of serious controls carried out on a daily basis which follow both FIFA and UEFA guidelines. “I didn’t recieve any complaints about the controls. In Spain, we take the fight against doping seriously,” he added.
Javier Martin del Burgo from State Anti-Doping Agency said that if there are any suspicions about doping in Spain, action will be taken but only if there is any evidence.
Additionally, Spanish sports doctors gave their statement regarding the whole “doping case”. The Spanish Association of Physicians of Football Teams (AEMEF) through a note expressed total support for medical services of both accused clubs and recalled that the Spanish Football Federation holds two doping tests at professional level and additional surprise checks during trainings.
Later on Monday, Cadena Cope, the radio station which started the entire discussion, issued an official note in which it apologised to FC Barcelona and Valencia CF, their fans and anyone who was harmed by the information broadcasted on the station. They also underlined that the only aim of the programme “El partido de las doce” was to inform listeners about Real Madrid’s plans and that Cadena Cope didn’t want to accuse FC Barcelona and Valencia CF of doping or put the honesty of doctors and players in doubt.