Sunday Sports Pages: "Football has got serious issues" amid doping scandal

Gavin Cummiskey and Kieran Cunningham assess the doping scandal with Joe Molloy on Off The Ball

Premier League, trophy, football, doping,

Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Archive/Press Association Images

A number of Premier League clubs have been implicated in a doping scandal off the back of a report in The Sunday Times. 

Speaking on Off The Ball on Sunday, Kieran Cunningham and Gavin Cummiskey discussed the doping scandal, which comes off the back of statements from Dr. Mark Bonar that he had given performance enhancing drugs and treatment to 150 elite sports people. 

The move from The Sunday Times involved filming Dr. Bonar talking about the possibility of providing a number of different treatments to an athlete, although the report in the paper adds that they haven't been able to independently verify what was said to them.

Cunningham stated that "this highlights the doping problem in soccer which is ignored and brushed over all the time, mostly I think because of the amount of money involved. Three years ago, according to the records of WADA, 117 footballers failed drugs tests. That was a higher number than any other sport". 

"Particularly the way football has gone with high-pressing games and the amount of running involved, if you talk to track and field athletes, they always say 'why don't people concentrate on soccer as well?', because they understand physiology, and how quickly people recover, and it doesn't make sense to them". 

Cummiskey added that this goes beyond the realm of just sport: "We can also see how deep this goes, the doctor makes money out of the prescriptions he gives as well. This is on the British government now, this is not a sporting issue anymore. It's on them because UK Anti-Doping have known about this for two years, they're funded by the tax payer, and if the British government don't get their arms around this, it shows that everyone's complicit."

Cunningham added that "I think football has got serious issues and this [investigation] is refreshing because it might cause the scales to fall off people's eyes".

The panel also discussed the story from Daniel Taylor in The Guardian which looks at Paul Gascoigne and his struggles with addiction in recent times. 

Taylor paints a portrait of the genius in his pomp, and contrasts it with what he sees now, a frail man whose "clothes are hanging off him. Gascoigne once had the most formidable backside in the industry. He was curved and chunky, like somebody had pumped him up. Now, everything he is wearing suddenly seems to have outgrown him by a size or two".