Manchester United defenders Daley Blind and Phil Jones have come under scrutiny due to recent doping allegations. In May, both defenders failed to appear for a drug test following last season’s Europa League final. As a result, UEFA officials have fined each £5,000 pounds. Jones received an additional two-match UEFA ban after verbally assaulting one of the anti-doping officials. However, contrary to current reports, the goal of the tests was not to determine any illegal drug use. Rather, UEFA intended to assess the defenders’ statuses as “dopes.”
“We take stupidity and foolishness very seriously,” said UEFA spokesman Saul Lawman. “We specifically called upon these players to address their behavior on the pitch. The issue here is not drug use.”
Fans and coaches do not understand UEFA’s anti-doping regulations (ADR). Many believe the rules pertain to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in European football. However, the regulations actually aim to reduce the number of dopes competing in UEFA competitions.
“We know that Blind and Jones were not using performance-enhancing drugs throughout the Europa competition,” Lawman stated. “If they had been doing so, it would show in the way they played. Had that been the case, the ADRs would have no bearing on the issue. UEFA uses anti-doping regulations to determine how players with little common sense make it into top European competitions.”
Jones and Doping
The doping control officer presiding over the Jones case has given insight into events that led to the defender’s ban. Normally, tests proceed smoothly, but Jones showed resistance.
“He knew we had him when he pushed on a door labelled ‘pull’ for five minutes,” the official stated. “I offered him assistance and he responded by telling me that my father smelt of elderberries. Some references are just not appropriate. I had no other choice. I had to report the additional abuse.”
Just this week, the English defender attended a press conference to address the issue.
“It shocks me that people think I would use drugs,” Jones said at a press conference on the matter. “I admit that I have tried them before. I poked my tongue with the needle, and they tasted awful. Never again.”
Reporters clarified that the allegations refereed to his ability and intelligence, and not to drug use.
“I guess I have to confess,” Jones said while munching on a biscuit. “It all started when Sir Alex retired. Moyes taught me about passing the ball back to the keeper when I was under no pressure. I questioned it at first, but then it hooked me. I started doping for every match and training. Now I don’t know if I can stop. I accept any punishment and take full responsibility for my actions.”
The press brought up his performance against Arsenal in the 2014/15 season. One reporter specifically referred to his headed “clearance” while holding off Olivier Giroud.
“That was when I started doping the most,” the defender said shamefully. “I wanted to fight for my club, and I did. But looking back, I didn’t want that to be the way it went down.”
Doping on the Rise?
Last season, UEFA increased its number of doping tests compared to previous years. As evidenced by the demands for retroactive diving bans and video referees, doping is more widespread than once believed. What contributes to such detrimental behavior?
“We specifically look at coaches first,” Saul Lawman stated. “A good example is Claudio Bravo. Look at him for Chile. He’s a great keeper! However, when he goes back to City, it’s embarrassing. Because of this, UEFA is currently investigating Pep Guardiola, who we believe is encouraging doping while at the Etihad. If we can catch this monster, we may be able to help the players effected.”
Stoke City’s Wilfred Bony and manager Mark Hughes are also in danger. After a fantastic season with the Swans in 2015, the Ivorian displayed an evident “lapse of form” for the Potters. But this failure to impress was just doping in disguise. Premier League officials deemed Bony guilty, but not before the striker dragged his manager down with him.
“I did all I could to keep Bony from doping,” Hughes said tearfully. “But after his spell at City, he couldn’t stop. I couldn’t just sit there and play him while feeling good about myself, so I started doping too. That’s why we finished 13th.”
Sometimes the coaches are not at fault. West Brom’s Hal Robson-Kanu had a terrible season, but never hid his doping addiction.
“Yeah, I couldn’t help it,” Robson-Kanu stated plainly. “I started doping when I was 12. My friends said it would make me cool. It’s been so long that I have just accepted it. I had to stop to make it into the Prem, but now I’m back to my old self. Money keeps flowing in, so until that changes, I don’t feel too bad.”
The Road to Recovery
“It’s a shame to see so many dopes make it past regulations,” said Saul Lawman. “Some players are beyond repair. The best we can do is just fine them and hope that they change their ways. We will continue causing mild financial grief for players and clubs until this scourge ends.”
Some managers have taken larger steps to preventing doping in their team. James Milner, Victor Moses, and Antonio Valencia have all been sober after their respective managers addressed their issues.
“I took Moses and put him in a wing-back position to try and save him,” said Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. “It was a hard road, but he did well with that freedom and made better choices.”
Some long-time dopes are still making it into UEFA-qualified teams, but Lawman hopes that increased awareness can reduce these numbers.
“We all want smart, exciting football. UEFA seeks to punish the managers and players responsible. We have faith that if we continue our modest fiscal punishments we will eliminate dopes from European football forever. If only we had started these investigations sooner.”
UEFA urges you to take action on social media if you witness doping while watching a match. Make your complaints to @UEFASaulLawman with a detailed description of what you saw. And remember, doping is not a victimless crime. It hurts players, coaches, families, and fans. Do your part.