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Society

Cyprus Soccer Players Say Documentary Proves Doping

July 28, 2019

Cyprus’ soccer players association (PASP) said a documentary by the Franco-German television station Arte about three players who got heart problems showed they were injected with banned substances.

In November, 2018, two players from First Division club Alki, Panayiotis Frangeskou, 27, and Panayiotis Loizides, 23, and another player asked police to investigate identical heart problems they developed that forced them to quit the sport were a result of intravenous injections containing unknown substances administered to them by club officials.

Earlier this year Cypriot authorities found nothing unlawful had been done but the union said doping had taken place and that the documentary proved it. The film was shot in Cyprus and Germany and includes statements by the head of the Football Association (CFA) Giorgos Koumas, the head of PASP, Spyros Neophytides and German scientists dealing with doping in sports.

“It presents an unflattering image of Cyprus since Arte’s producers looked into whether illegal medical practices were taking place in Cypriot football,” PASP said.

Among other things, the documentary also shows a photo depicting the use of an intravenous substance in a Cyprus football changing room which is a violation of anti-doping regulations, it said.

Neophytides told state broadcaster CyBC television that the documentary revealed wrongdoing that Cypriot officials tried to cover up. “Some at the police know very well, how they handled the case and how they closed it,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

He said the association was trying to warn its members on how to protect themselves. “At the end of the day, any footballer or citizen who steps forward to give any information remains exposed. The documentary sheds light to what happened and that things were not what had been presented,” Neophytides said.

The documentary follows Frangeskou who narrates his experience and shows the producers around Alki’s training pitch and shows them where the intravenous injections were taking place in the referees’ changing rooms.

He says they were injected with the substances there days before each match and that when his medical problem was revealed, they kicked him out “like a dog.”

He also said everyone in the football world is afraid to talk. “I understand them, however, because it is often the case that any whistleblower that steps forward, end up without a career,” he said.

Koumas said the players are not facing health problems due to those specific injections and told the documentary makers that every club in Europe, small or large, uses legal medications to make players more motivated.

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