Soccer scandal as bad as it gets

Canadian boxer Mary Spencer carries the country's flag during the closing ceremony of the Pan...

Canadian boxer Mary Spencer carries the country's flag during the closing ceremony of the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico last month. (REUTERS)

Steve Buffery, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 AM ET

This has got to be one of the most troubling sports stories to come down the pipe in years. Certainly up there with the Penn State tragedy.

In a report put together by Keir Radnedge, chairman of the AIPS Football Commission, a number of Algerian national team soccer players from the early to mid 1980’s, including the 1982 World Cup team, believe they were unknowingly given performance enhancing substances, and are demanding an inquiry. According to media reports in Algiers, at least seven national team players from that period have fathered severely handicapped children and are wondering if their Soviet coach, Gennady Rogov (now deceased) and their Soviet team doctor, both assigned to the Algerian football federation by the Soviet Union, an ally of the Algerian regime at the time, had something to do with it. One of the players, Mohamed Chaïb has fathered three handicapped daughters.

“Rogov brought with him a Soviet doctor who, very early on, would not let us see the dossiers and papers they worked with,” said Rachid Hanifi, a former Algerian national team doctor and now president of the National Olympic Committee. “I sent a report to the head of the national sports medical centre and to the Ministry of Sport. They told me to leave Rogov and his doctor well alone.”

Hanifi said it certainly would have been possible for players to have ingested drugs without knowing what they contained. Many of these players are now destitute and have nowhere to turn.

For years leading up to Olympics and other competitions, Soviet athletes were put on drug protocols by their national sports federation. The Soviets even docked ships at host cities during Olympics to monitor their athletes so they wouldn’t test positive.

Let’s hope FIFA, the world body of soccer, takes the initiative (for once) and pushes for a full-scale inquiry and does not allow this issue to be swept under the carpet.

FRIENDLY FIRE

Toronto Sun columnist Simon Kent, a “transplanted Aussie”, wrote a piece last weekend about our obsession with hockey.

“Hell on ice with high hits and shoulder charges, trips, punches, headlocks, gang tackles, blind-sided jabs and kicks to the shin. (And) that’s just the pre-game warmup.”

Simon goes on about “swivel-eyed men” going at each other on the ice and referees who’s only job is to stay alive and avoid being hit, etc, etc — the usual ‘take the piss out of something you don’t understand’ fare.

I’m not sure what a ‘swivel-eyed” man is and I haven’t noticed many NHL players kicking each other in the shins recently, but my buddy Jack Boland, a Sun photographer, tells me that Simon is a good guy, so I won’t rag on the dude too much. I get Australian humour. Jacko the battery guy was a comic genius and that Knifey-Spooney bit never gets old. But perhaps Simon should stick with playing his didgeridoo.

Or maybe take up music.

OH, BROTHER!

Canadian boxer Mary Spencer, who is favoured to win 75 kg gold at the 2012 London Olympics, was never a bully in school, but she always knew she could handle herself in an altercation, even before she began to box: “I knew from a very young age that if I got into a fight with a girl my age, my size, I’d kick her butt. I never wanted to, but I always knew in the back of my mind, ‘Yeah, I can fight, because I have an older brother, and I can beat him up.’ Her older brother (David) must be very proud. Or ashamed.

Or something.

WHILE I’M AT IT

* Congratulations to TSN soccer guy Luke Wileman on becoming a Canadian citizen.

* Monty Python once came out with a list of the world’s thinnest books, including: John, Paul, George and Ringo, The Davenport Brothers and Famous French Military Victories. In a totally unrelated item, my buddy Gord Stellick has just released his book Stellicktricity.

WEENIE OF THE WEEK

The media regulars who cover the UFC. Never a discouraging word. If UFC president Dana White dropped a turd on the octagon floor, it would be reported as the greatest thing ever. Show some balance.

 


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