DRUGS are nothing new in football, after all, we practically invented alcoholism.
For a while at least, we normalised addictive substances and sold countless books off the back of it in a futile attempt to recoup the fortunes we lost to over-indulgence.
Kitson suffered a shoulder injury that required injections[/caption]
But each generation has its own temptations, and there are some new players in town.
A probe has revealed that 16 tests showed professional footballers in this country had taken amphetamine, morphine, Triamcinolone or Ritalin. Eight were from last season, six from 2017-18 and two from 2016-17.
I could tell you that I’m surprised but it’s easier to tell the truth.
Some of these cases will be legitimate of course. There are instances where players need medical assistance to do their job.
But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind some examples will be cover-ups. How do I know? I witnessed it with my own eyes. I was that player.
I vividly remember being given steroids for a chronic shoulder problem after a player fell on top of me.
Two steroid injections later and my shoulder was completely pain free but I was encouraged to continue with the course of steroid pills which would last a further two weeks.
I didn’t question the decision, nobody did back then, but actually the benefits simply didn’t occur to me.
However, in training it was obvious. I had energy where other players had none. And more importantly I also had a doctor’s note.
As long as money continues to rule our game, so clubs will continue to bend more rules than the Catholic Church. Prescription medication will always be a grey area.
What isn’t a grey area, is the idea that recreational drugs are acceptable, even if they’re consumed out of season.
Now, I’m not whiter than white in this area as I didn’t start my professional career until I was 21.
But I can assure you I never took recreational drugs while I was a professional footballer. I know a few that did, though.
At one Premier League club I played for we had signed a player that was caught using cocaine. We promptly sold him to a rival without passing on that little bit of information.
In the ensuing game, later in the season, all hell broke loose.
The match was marred by horrific tackles, terrible refereeing decisions and a very controversial winning goal.
The spectacle was conjured up by two managers that knew the truth, and they instructed their players to be ultra aggressive. Like lemmings, we carried out the orders.
Immediately after the final whistle both sets of players bundled into the tunnel and threw punches at each other.
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I remember as if it was yesterday the opposition boss shouting at his contemporary, “you knew, you f*****g knew!”
So what’s the answer? It’s simple. Football has more money than it knows what to do with.
The FA could easily spring for weekly drug testing instead of the random approach they have to players that may be taking banned substances.
Our governing body could eradicate all drug taking in one season.
So why doesn’t it? Well, you can all probably answer that for yourselves.