Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Fat Lot of Good to Think Football Is Not Affected by Doping

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Fat Lot of Good to Think Football Is Not Affected by Doping

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

MY MAIN memory of taking fat-burning diet pills is that they made me very hot. Not hot as in 'svelte', or 'ripped', or 'a wellknobbled hunk of love candy'. Just much, much too hot.

The pills came in a screw-top plastic jar and were called something like Thermoflex, or Flab Furnace, or Torche-gut I forget. They were white lozenges, the shape of old-fashioned peppermints: hard to swallow and murder to digest.

The cod-scientific assumption on which they worked was that by increasing your body's temperature you would, as it were, melt excess fat away, like butter sliding off a toasted crumpet. I found they made no discernible difference to my physique.

Of course, it is true I have always been built like a monkey-puzzle tree; it is hard to improve on perfection. Nevertheless, the experience was enough to build in my mind the long-lasting impression that anyone who takes diet pills must be gullible, mad, or simply cold.

Which brings us to Mamadou Sakho. Might he be dappy, batty, or just freezing? You decide. Either way, Liverpool's French defender has tested positive for a banned substance, reported to be a fat-burning supplement. Now he finds himself in hot water which if the stories are substantiated may, of course, turn out to be a pool of his own sweat.

It is important to say that Sakho has not been charged or officially banned, but he has been sidelined by Liverpool while investigations continue. Things don't look good for him, and for once this is not simply because of his haircut.

Moreover, things don't look great for football, which remains in partial denial about the fact it could have a doping problem.

Mark Lawrenson wrote last weekend that doping "has been prevalent in athletics, horse racing and cycling, but never the richest sport of all."

Well. Okay. Presumably Lawrenson has been asleep since 1994, when Diego Maradona was banned for using ephedrine at the World Cup.

That would not be wholly surprising, since '94 was around the time Lawrenson began his career as a pundit, providing soporific commentaries that even a Maradona-sized dose of ephedrine would do well to enliven. …

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