|All the talk here in the United States is about baseball’s Barry Bonds and his sudden bulk up in his old age and now bigger head, and the Mitchel report, naming names, but around the soccer world there have been a few drug busts and performing enhancing accusations too. Not on the scale of Bonds, but the football media swirl surrounded a few stars on the football pitch is growing. Below are just a few of the names in world football / soccer who have been charged with or busted for using drugs or performance enhancing drugs while playing the beautiful game.
On one hand you can’t really fault a soccer player for wanting to do anything to keep playing at a high level, but many times these are players who have already won titles and championships–they’ve won the support of the fans. In a way they get greedy or love the game so much that can’t stand leaving or have their level of play drop. In the end taking drugs to boost their play only diminishes the respect the fans have for the player and their place in the history of the game of soccer.
However, playing football / soccer at such a high level must be like a drug for a player, the cheering and applause, their names part of a song heard around the stadium–tough to leave the game as you get older and players stupidly turn to anything to keep them on the pitch. Especially if they suffer an injury and are trying to get back into the side. Many soccer players resort to using banned substances to heal and recover faster. But in the long run they only weaken their game as they damage their overall health. The Maradona celebration face in the above image is from a the game versus Greece in the 1994 World Cup just before he was kicked out of the tournament for using performance enhancing drugs.
Kolo Toure The Manchester City defender is ban from the game could be up to two years, however, he said the failed test was due to mistakenly taking a diet pill belonging to the player’s wife.
Frank de Boer Barcelona star Frank de Boer protested his innocence despite testing positive for the banned substance nandrolone.
Edgar Davids Dutch midfielder and tireless worker, had the nickname the Pit Bull for his strong work ethic, was banned for four months when he played for Juventus after failing a drug test due to Nandralone. Wears signature wrap around eye goggles because of the eye condition glaucoma.
Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola Four month ban after testing positive for Nandrolone. Six years later in Oct. 23, 2007, Guardiola was cleared on all charges that brought on this.
Abel Xavier The former Liverpool and Everton player was banned at a hearing in Nyon after being found guilty of testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid dianabol. A charge that he denied.
Diego Maradona Probably the saddest case. One of the greatest soccer players of all time was booted out of the World Cup. Maradona was suspended for 15 months in 1991 after a failed doping test for cocaine in Italy, and then again for ephedrine during the 1994 World Cup in USA. But it has come out recently that Maradona was using cocaine all the while he played in Italy for Napoli.
Rio Ferdinand The Manchester United and England defender served a suspension but came back and played at the level he left with no drop off. It wasn’t know what he was on because he never actually took the drug test. He simply skipped it, claiming he was busy moving. He served a stiff penalty though, missing 8 months of the game including Euro 2004.
Mark Bosnich Former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Bosnic, who was released by the football club after testing positive for cocaine and banned for 9 months. Later stated he had a £5,000 a week cocaine habit.
Jaap Stam Another Manchester United star busted during his playing days in Italy. During his time with Lazio, Stam was found guilty of having the banned steroid nandrolone in his system following a Serie A game, and received a 5-month ban, which was eventually reduced by a month after appeals.
Fernando Couto Portuguese defender banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.
Lee Bowyer Tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test when he was with Charlton as an 18 year old. Banned for 8 weeks and dropped from the England under 18 squad. Probably a player who could use a little something to calm him down.
Shaun Newton West Ham attacking right midfielder banned for seven months after a positive test for cocaine. He now plays for Leicester City.
Adrian Mutu Fired by Chelsea for failing a drug test–tested positive for cocaine. He was fined £20,000 and banned for 7 months. The Romanian forward now plays for Fiorentina in the Seria A and Romania has also qualified for Euro 2008.
Christophe Dugarry The French footballer tested positive for nandrolone. Probably best known as the good friend of Zidane, he had spells with teams in France, Spain, England, and Qatar. At times a crafty forward and great passer of the ball.
Paul Merson Used cocaine but entered drug rehab and escaped a ban while playing with Arsenal.
Claudio Cannigia Argentine forward tested positive for cocaine when he played with Roma.
The latest member of the list is the great Brazilian forward who claimed the drug was for hair loss and not to gain pace, Romario.
Then there are coaches who once played the game and dabbled in substances that were, at the time legal.
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