Der Spiegel, with the help of documents from Football Leaks, have finally released their report on a positive doping test of a “multiple Champions League winner,” and their article is on none other than our very own Sergio Ramos (and Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid).
The first third of the report focuses on Ramos testing positive for a banned substance called “dexamethasone,” which is apparently “a cortisone preparation that has an anti-inflammatory effect in addition to relieving pain,” and also “increases cognition and concentration and can have a euphoric effect.”
The drug is actually allowed prior to matches, but “such an administration [must] be reported by the team doctor in the course of a doping test. Should the doctor neglect to do so and should traces of dexamethasone be found in an athlete’s blood, it is considered as a suspected case of doping. The next, compulsory step is the initiation of a doping investigation.”
This is where Ramos’ problem arises. The club doctor only “noted that the Real Madrid defender had received an intra-articular injection on the day before the final of a different medication: Celestone Chronodose.”
The doctor took the blame and claimed he had made an innocent mistake, which UEFA accepted, meaning no investigation into the incident was forthcoming.
The second third of the piece breaks away from Ramos and talks about an unannounced anti-doping test on Feb. 1, 2017. Two doping control officers travelled to Madrid to perform tests on 10 Real Madrid players, but the situation got out of hand when Ronaldo complained “that he was always selected.”
In the reportedly tense situation, Real Madrid’s medical team abruptly took over the process themselves and inserted the needles for the remaining eight players (UEFA managed to draw blood from Ronaldo and Toni Kroos).
According to Der Spiegel:
There are clear rules and guidelines for unannounced tests. Teams must guarantee that the doping control officers are able to do their jobs independently and with no interference. Furthermore, players do not have a say in who accompanies them to the restroom for a urine sample or who draws their blood. Doping control officers may insert a needle three times on the search for a vein.
UEFA demanded a response from Real Madrid, who “accused the two UEFA testers of inadequacy” and said that Ronaldo “had ‘respectfully complained...’ not because he had once again been singled out for testing but because the UEFA anti-doping officer had stuck him twice with a needle without finding a vein.”
The final third of the article returns to Sergio Ramos and details alleged anti-doping interference on April 15, 2018, following an away win over Málaga. After the result, a doping officer asked Ramos to submit to a doping test.
What then allegedly took place is described by the head of the Doping Control Unit of the Spanish anti-doping agency [AEPSAD] in a two-page letter sent to Real Madrid’s medical chief on Sept. 21, 2018.
According to the letter, Ramos wanted to shower before he provided his urine sample. The doctor resisted, but Ramos did it anyway. Der Spiegel claims that this is in clear violation of anti-doping laws:
When a player who is summoned for a doping test on Spanish territory showers or bathes prior to providing a urine sample, it could also constitute a violation of the country’s anti-doping laws. The Spanish parliament has strengthened the country’s doping legislation in recent years. The transgression that Ramos has been accused of can be found under paragraph 22.1.e). It reads: “Obstaculación de cualquier parte de los procedimientos de control de dopaje.” In English: “Obstruction of a part of doping control procedures.”
And such a violation could result in severe penalties:
A club can be fined up to 300,000 euros, have points deducted or even face punitive relegation to a lower league. A team doctor could face a suspension of up to four years and a player could face a four-year ban. The suspension can be reduced to two years if the player can credibly argue that the violation “was not premeditated.”
After five months, on Sept. 30, 2018, the Spanish anti-doping agency sent Ramos a letter, giving him 10 days to respond. The whole ordeal concluded with AEPSAD saying that “in the present case, the result of the investigation proceedings did not establish any fact that would allow concluding that there was an act constituting an Anti-Doping violation.”
According to Der Spiegel, it is abnormal that it took the Spanish anti-doping agency five months to send Madrid official notifications of the accusations levied against Ramos, as it normally “only takes a few weeks before an athlete is notified of inconsistencies during a doping test.”
Real Madrid have released an official statement in response to these allegations:
With regards to the reports published by Der Spiegel in relation to our captain, Sergio Ramos, the club wishes to express the following:
1. Sergio Ramos has never breached anti-doping regulations.
2. UEFA requested specific information and immediately closed the case referred to, as is customary in such instances, following tests carried out by experts from the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) and UEFA itself.
3. In terms of the rest of the content published by the aforementioned publication, the club will not be making any comment, given the clearly insubstantial nature of the reports.