Football, doping and cancer: from ALS to the fear of Dino Baggio, what we know


Football, doping and cancer: from ALS to the fear of Dino Baggio, what we know
Written by aquitodovale

Of Andrea Serene

From the trial against Juventus to the cases of players who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: could the drugs administered by club doctors in the 80s and 90s have caused health problems?

“The drugs we took during that time should be investigated. There has always been doping. We need to understand if certain supplements have hurt over time. I’m scared too, it’s happening to too many players.” Dino Baggio, 51 years old and a past between Parma, Juventus, Inter and beyond, goes straight to the point and asks himself: is there a connection between players who get sick and the substances that were given to them between the 80s and 90s? He recalls Gianluca Vialli, «a locker room man attentive to young people», who died on 6 January from pancreatic cancer, but underlines how «it is happening to too many players. When I played you took normal things, but then you have to see if over time you can throw them out or they stay inside. Many spoke of the grass in the fields and the products they used, which caused problems…». In short, it highlights a fear that has often become almost a form of psychosis among ex-footballers, however not supported by any scientific data. Assumptions. Let’s see where they come from.

The Juventus doping trial

The alleged administration of illicit drugs between 1994 and 1998 to Juventus players is at the center of the doping trial against the Juventus club and Dr. Riccardo Agricola (the team doctor between 1985 and 2009). Among the disputed substances, also Erythropoietin (Epo), a drug that acts on the blood. An investigation opened by prosecutor Guariniello which started in 1998 after the declarations of Zdenek Zeman all‘Expressed, in which the then Roma coach argued that Italian football should “leave the pharmacies”. In 2002, the former health manager of the Juventus club was sentenced in the first instance to one year and ten months for “administration of Epo and medicinal specialties for qualities other than those declared”, while the then managing director, Antonio Giraudo, was acquitted. In 2005, the appeal overturned this sentence with Agricola’s acquittal. The Cassation then reversed the acquittal arguing that the allegations of excessive administration of drugs could still be considered as violations of the 1989 law on sports fraud, but the offense had in the meantime lapsed.

ALS in football

At the end of the 90s we started talking about ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) — the progressive, seriously disabling and fatal neurodegenerative disease, which mainly affects the first and second motion neuron, the ones that allow us to move — linked to calcium, above all when it is Gianluca who is affected by it Gentlemen (who died in 2002 at the age of 42) and Stefano Borgonova (died 2013). Not just them. In 2019 Giovanni Bertini (former defender of Rome and Fiorentina among others) died of Sla. A sort of collective psychosis, which in 2005 had led Cannavaro to say: «We tax our salaries for research», Montolivo spoke instead of «malaise: we can no longer turn a blind eye».

The study on ALS in football

A recent study completed by the Mario Negri Institute of Milan, published in the specialized scientific journal Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Fronto Temporal Diseaseconfirms that i footballers would fall ill more and sooner than other professional categories. This work certifies that there are 32 confirmed cases of ALS in Italian football: «These are the cases of football players who died of ALS that we found by consulting all the Panini album collections, from the 1959-’60 season to that of 1999-2000, reaching to 2018 with an enlarged follow-up on the football population compared to the two previous epidemiological studies which stopped in 2005″. Among the possible causes of this higher incidence on football players: 1) trauma to the limbs and head: players often develop the bulbar form of ALS, with damage to the facial block, in fact midfielders are more affected (who take more hits in tackles ) compared to goalkeepers; 2) contact with pesticides and herbicides from fields, products for treating green areas (no significant evidence has emerged in this regard); 3) doping, excessive levels of androgens in the blood; 4) abuse of non-prohibited drugs.

Lotito: “Too many diseases among players”

Recently, after the death of Sinisa Mihajlovic from leukemia, the president of Lazio, Claudius Lotito, said that «we need to investigate some diseases that could be linked to the type of stress and treatments that were given to the players at the time. There is no scientific discourse, of course we have to ask ourselves the question of why these things happen on a recurring basis». Raphael Guariniellothe prosecutor in charge of the doping investigation into Juventus which later merged into the abuse of drugs in football, explained that “before speaking, caution is needed, at this moment it would be indelicate and completely useless to stop at the single case – his words to the Everyday occurrence —. The phenomenon should be studied as a whole at an epidemiological level. We have gone back 30 years on doping».

Sabatini: «Sick players? Justifiable suspicions»

It’s still Walter Sabatinia life in football, first on the pitch and then as sporting director of various teams, comments on the words of Dino Baggio: «There has been a very long death of players for which the suspicions are consistent and even justifiable
, also linked to methods adopted once and which were probably not linked to a doping system but an integrative support system which, led to excessive doses, may have led to some important problems in the future”. Then the former ds of Salernitana increases the dose: «I too have been there when I was 18 or 20 years old, the doctors used to give you injections and I didn’t know what they were injecting you with. And the risk is insisted on for everyone, apart from someone who wanted the information. I punctually got two injections before the game without ever asking a question, I trusted the doctors. For now I’ve been lucky and I don’t have such a negative feedback at the moment. Let’s just say it was standard practice.”

January 17, 2023 (change January 17, 2023 | 19:25)

#Football #doping #cancer #ALS #fear #Dino #Baggio


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