Doping mystery surrounds Algeria's Class of '82
LONDON, November 22, 2011 - One of the most infamous manipulations in the history in the World Cup occurred at the finals in Spain in 1982. West Germany beat Austria by the minimum necessary 1-0 in Gijon and the neighbours played out time so that both reached the second round.
The victims were Algeria who were thus eliminated from the finals despite, earlier, having achieved a major surprise by beating the West Germans, ultimate runners-up, by 2-1.
Now, a further remarkable claim has arisen over Algeria's campaign, that some of the players, without their knowledge, were doped.
Media reports in Algiers have claimed that handicapped children have subsequently been born to at least seven of the national team players in the early to mid 1980s [Mehdi Cerbah, Salah Larbés, Abdelkader Tlemcani, Mohamed Kaci Said, Djamel Menad and Mohamed Chaïb].
One of the players, Mohamed Chaïb who has three handicapped daughters, has been quoted as saying: "We are now having has us serious doubts about the effect of the medicines that were given to us during our preparations for the World Cup. There was a Soviet doctor with the staff and now we are wondering whether we were given supposedly performance-enhancing substances.
"We want an inquiry into what happened. We want the truth."
He has been supported by Djamel Menad, who played for Algeria at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico, and who has a seriously handicapped daughter. He said: "Since I discovered that I was not the only one I have started asking questions. This has happened to several of us and it cannot be a coincidence."
Former midfielder Mohamed Kaci Saïd, father of another handicapped daughter, added: "I cannot say that we were mice in some Soviet sport scientist's laboratory and that we knew what we were taking. But questions will remain until a formal inquiry has been undertaken."
One former national team doctor, Rachid Hanifi who is now president of the National Olymic Committee, has said it would have been perfectly possible for players to have ingested drugs without asking or knowing what they contained.
National coach in 1982 was Russian Gennady Rogov. He had been assigned to the Algerian football federation by the Soviet Union which was then an ally and supporter of the Algerian regime.
Hanafi recalled: "Rogov brought with him a Soviet doctor who, very early on, would not let us see the dossiers and papers they worked with. I sent a report to the head of the national sports medical centre and to the Ministry of Sport. They told me to Rogov and his doctor well alone."
Born in 1929 in Chelyabinsk, Rogov played for VVS Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow where he was later a coach. He also managed the national team of the Central African Republic as well as Algeria at the 1982 World Cup finals and again between 1986 and 1988.
Rogov is unable to defend himself; he died in Moscow, aged 67, in 1996.
However denials of any hint of doping have come from Ali Fergani, who captained Algeria to their famous victory over West Germany, and Mahieddine Khalef who was then a senior member of the national team coaching staff.
Fergani said: "The number of players who have fathered handicapped children is minimal compared with the number of footballers who played for Algeria in the 1980s. As for the medical staff, they were all Algerian and we didn't take any medicaments apart from Vitamin C."
Khalef added: "There was doping at the time in the countries of eastern Europe but performance-enhancing drugs were not available in Algeria. Everything was tightly controlled by the national sports medicine centre."
Their recollection appeared to have been supported by Rabah Saadane who coached Algeria in Mexico. He said: "I was managed from 1984 to 1986 and we never had any European doctors with us."
However that statement is contradicted by an interview conducted by the online portal Dzfoot with Sasha Tabarchouk, a Soviet specialist who worked with the Algerian sports medical centre in the 1980s. He said that he and several Soviet colleagues had worked there on secondment from the Soviet National Olympic Committee.
He added: "We prescribed vitamin tablets for the players. I also used some children's nutritional products which came from Holland. We were very specific about the dosage . . . and the federation know all about it. It was the federation which bought everything in for the players."