Former Town star in TV drug expose
A FORMER Ipswich Town star helped lift the lid on drug use in professional football last night as part of a revealing BBC television documentary.Ex-Blues defender John Scales, who also played for Liverpool, Spurs and England, fronted an investigation into the problem for the BBC's Real Story.
A FORMER Ipswich Town star helped lift the lid on drug use in professional football last night as part of a revealing BBC television documentary.
Ex-Blues defender John Scales, who also played for Liverpool, Spurs and England, fronted an investigation into the problem for the BBC's Real Story.
Scales, who played for Town during the 2000/2001 season, admitted he was surprised by the findings of the show.
More than 700 footballers across all the English professional leagues took part in the survey, which was conducted for the BBC by Professor Ivan Waddington of the University of Leicester.
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Forty six per cent of those polled said they felt football has a drugs problem, with another 46% saying they knew of a colleague who uses recreational drugs, while 5.6 % knew of a team mate taking performance-enhancing substances.
Scales said: "I've done bits and bobs of television and I really wanted to do a serious documentary. I felt this was a good subject and an issue that need investigating.
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"I spent four months working on it, travelling back and forth to Italy, and I got the chance to interview Alan Hodson, the FA's chief medical administrator, which was great.
"It was all very interesting. The programme shows that we have a significant minority of footballers who could be cheating and that's the view of the players – it can't be more emphatic than that."
Among the most surprising of the programme's findings was a figure that showed 5.8% of players knew when they were going to be drug tested, allowing cheats to evade detection.
Scales, who said he was tested just three times during his career added: "I was really surprised by what we found. I really never saw or heard players talking about drugs when I was playing, so I was very shocked.
"I think drugs have always been viewed as an issue that other sports have in other countries – but this shows that it is in the English game.
"It is a problem that needs to be addressed and tackled. We need to have the right level of testing and the right level of deterrent in place and we have got to make sure that we do more to stamp it out."
Scales added: "I suppose I am slightly concerned about how some players might react, but I don't think anybody could point at me and say I'm a whistleblower or anything like that.
"This is not an expose and it's not meant to point fingers at anyone. I'm a player and I want to speak out for other players and highlight this issue.
"I love football and I'm not in it to try and ruin the name of the game – I wanted to cover the issue responsibly and in depth, which I think we've done.
"It's been a great experience for me, and I'm very pleased with how the programme has turned out."