Has taken Maradona steroids

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The whole nation had prayed for the return of the football savior, and when Diego Armando Maradona scored the same in the first game of the Argentine team at the 1994 World Cup in the USA against Greece, it actually looked as if the superstar had left the earthly realms for good. The otherwise filigree technician had chased the ball into the goal with a tremendous force, but his cheers were even more eerie. He ran towards the television cameras with his mouth wide open, his eyes seeming to pop out of their sockets. The grounding of the genius soon followed. In the doping test after the second preliminary round game, traces of ephedrine were found, among other things. Maradona had been caught with cocaine a few years earlier, but now his career was de facto over. To this day it is probably the most famous doping case in professional football.

At least the evidence suggests that there must have been many more cases. The dark cloud of doping hangs over many of the big names in world football - Zinédine Zidane, Pep Guardiola, Joachim Löw, to name just a few - but almost nothing has been proven. And football still maintains its image of clean sport.

Because it is not just about endurance, speed and stamina, so the common argument, but above all about technical skill, tactics and so-called mental strength, doping would not be of much use in football. Nevertheless, every professional club now has a medical department that is well-equipped in terms of personnel, technology and pharmacology. And in the modern German heroic saga of the “Miracle of Bern” in 1954, it played a not inconsiderable role that many regarded as highly dubious.

“Strengthening chemistry,” wrote Schumacher, was widespread among his colleagues

The 2013 study “Doping in Germany from 1950 to today” rekindled the rumors that had been around for a long time about Sepp Herberger's team. Some of the players were suddenly sick with jaundice, the substitute Richard Herrmann even died of it later. Why? What is certain is that several players were injected in Switzerland. Possibly with the stimulant Pervitin, but that has not been proven. The later world champions always claim that there was nothing else in the syringes than glucose.

The topic first came to the German public in 1987 with the unveiling book “Anpfiff” by national goalkeeper Toni Schumacher. “Strengthening chemistry,” wrote Schumacher, was widespread among his colleagues: “It seemed strange to me that perfectly healthy people stuffed themselves with drugs like that.” Toni Schumacher lost his jobs in the national team and at 1 FC Cologne.

Last year there were indications that there was systematic doping at the clubs SC Freiburg and VfB Stuttgart in the 1970s and 1980s. The focus: the Freiburg physician Armin Klümper. A commission that has dealt with the doping past of the University of Freiburg has apparently found evidence that anabolic steroids were administered at the two clubs. Klümper's numerous sports patients also included the heptathlete Birgit Dressel, who died in 1987 of multiple organ failure as a result of a toxic-allergic shock and is said to have taken more than 100 different drugs, including anabolic steroids, in the two years before her death. In the “current sports studio”, today's national coach and former Freiburg player Joachim Löw said that he had also been treated by Klümper, but had not knowingly doped there. Nevertheless: "There were no bans, and there were also no doping controls, there was no awareness."

"If I talked, the Spanish national team would have to give up their 2010 World Cup title"

Pills, injections and cures - players from legendary teams such as Juventus Turin in the 60s, Ajax Amsterdam in the 70s and again Turin in the 90s report on them. The doctors would have given them real miracle cures. A large study by the European association UEFA showed that in urine samples from 879 top footballers from 2008 to 2013, increased testosterone levels were found in 7.7 percent of cases. The players remained anonymous.

Almost never anything else happened either. Riccardo Agricola, Juventus team doctor in the 1990s, was initially found guilty of administering the blood doping agent EPO to players on his team - which included stars such as Zinédine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero and Didier Deschamps. The court later overturned the verdict and Agricola kept his job. Pep Guardiola was one of the many players banned for abuse of the steroid nandrolone in the early 2000s, along with Dutchmen Jaap Stam, Edgar Davids and Frank de Boer. Guardiola and de Boer enjoy the highest respect as coaches in the industry today.

And what about the biggest clubs in football, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid? Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor who had established a dense doping network in cycling, allegedly claimed to have worked with the clubs to a fellow prisoner while in custody. He later retracted this statement, only to say: "If I were to talk, the Spanish national team would have to give up their 2010 World Cup." But he wouldn't do that in order not to risk his life - he had several times Received death threats. A court turned down his offer to reveal the names of his clients outside of cycling and ordered the destruction of the bags of plasma and blood found on him and their documentation. Several sports and anti-doping associations took action against it, and the appeal ruling dragged on.

Now, at the beginning of the European Championship, the doping cloud is reappearing

In the multi-billion dollar football industry, few seem seriously interested in education. This can also be seen in this year's sensational champions of the English Premier League: Leicester City. Much has been reported that the title win of last year's relegation candidate was like balm for the soul of the battered football romantic. Most often it has been forgotten that Leicester City was at the center of a doping affair just a month earlier. The gynecologist Mark Bonar had claimed in front of the hidden camera of the "Sunday Times" and a decoy used by the ARD / WDR doping editorial team to have doped more than 150 professional athletes over several years - including players from Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester City. Bonar later rowed back, the clubs vehemently contradicted the allegations, there was no evidence. It is only strange how quickly the interest in the actually alarming story ebbed and that no official of the unaffected clubs complained loudly about distortion of competition.

Now, at the start of the European Championship, the doping cloud is reappearing. As the ARD / WDR doping editorial team reports, systematic doping in Russia should not be limited to athletics. Sports minister Vitaly Mutko is said to have personally ensured that a doping case at the first division club FK Krasnodar was covered up. It is doubtful whether this will have a negative effect on the audience ratings for the mega-event. The fans - from Bern to Leicester - also seem to want to believe in miracles rather than let their love of the "beautiful game" be stained.