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From almost the moment Celtic secured eight in a row, and the countdown to ten could start for real, one question has haunted the thoughts of many of our supporters and it’s this;

How far might the Ibrox club be willing to go to stop us from reaching that milestone?
 

The answer was that they would do whatever they thought they could get away with.

All of us knew that part of the strategy would be an aggressive campaign of financial doping.

But there are other kinds of doping, and it is high time we gave them some thought.

Understand that what you are about to read is not an allegation regarding anyone at Ibrox, or indeed anywhere else. It merely asks a series of questions, based on a lot of background information which is in the public domain.

It raises issues which you would hope that a serious media might wish to take a look at.

It even asks questions of supporters, including our own, and what we might be prepared to tolerate if it means success for our teams.

These are serious questions. This is a serious piece.

I am going to split it up into sections, because that’s the best way to lay out the background to the story before we get to the actual guts of what I’m going to write.

So bear with me through the early parts; they will provide the framework for the last two sections.

Where possible I intend to reference my sources.

There are a lot of them out there. Once again, I’ll say that I’m making no direct allegationsagainst anyone … indeed, as you’ll read, the central theory relates to practices that aren’t even banned.

I’m simply presenting facts that are in the public domain and which you can interpret as you will.

The central questions at the centre of this article are these; is the current Ibrox team “built” not on robust training and coaching methods but on the dark side of sports medicine?

Are these really sustainable foundations at the club that calls itself Rangers, or is this yet another illusion in a long list of them over there?

In short, are these really days of hope or they drifting on a haze of dope?

Would their supporters or their friends in the press or our so-called leaders at the SFA care either way?

And perhaps most importantly, would we if it were us?

A Brief History Of Doping In German Football

They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and doping has been around in German football, in one version or another, for years. Germany is not the only place this has happened, but it’s the place where most attention has been focussed because of the high profile nature of the allegations and one of the individuals who spoke out on it; Joachim Low, the national coach.

He was dragged into an ever 

s that his former clubs had used anabolic steroids to build up players whilst he was there as a footballer. He denied it all, and it went away in much the same way as the Italian manager Antonio Conte has never been asked to explain allegations that he used a banned substance as a player.

Allegations involving Germany go back to the 1950’s.

Their 1954 and 1966 World Cup teams have long been at the centre of doping allegations, and indeed in 1966 three of their players did test positive for banned substances, but incredible there were no sanctions.

It is now believed that their 1954 team were regularly receiving injections with a banned substance which had been used to keep exhausted soldiers on the battlefield during the war.

Peter Neururer might not be a familiar name to many people on this side of the world, but he still works in German football today, and he raised quite the scandal in 2007 when he said that doping practices were “rife” in Germany at every level in the sport. He specifically cited the club he had been in charge of in the 1990’s – Schalke 04 – as a sterling example.

Former directors at Eintracht Braunschweig would later admit that they knew their own players were being doped during or around that same time.

The bigger clubs maintain that the game is free of this scourge.

Banned substances so rarely turn up in testing that most assume the game is squeaky clean, but this is not the case.

Doping has simply become more sophisticated and harder to detect … and some methods which are highly dangerous are actually quasi-legal although for how much longer remains to be seen.

In 2018, a major war of words blew up between Pepe Guardiola and Bayern Munich’s club doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt– nicknamed “Healing Hans” – over what he perceived as a tendency with Guardiola to rush players back from injury before they are fit.

Guardiola, of course, had worked alongside him when the Spaniard was Munich’s head coach.

The debate somehow spilled over into discussions about performance enhancing drugs; Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt went on to deny that they are used in football, and offered a medically unsupportable reason why they wouldn’t work.

“It would make no sense to bulk up in football—the muscles would become too heavy. They’d lose elasticity. If a player were to take stimulants, his batteries would be empty after that and he would experience a drop in performance in the following match. As far as I can oversee it, there is no doping in football,” he said.

But as most people who’ve looked at the issue are aware, that’s arrant nonsense … and not only is it blatantly untrue, but it actually misrepresents the real problem. For openers, he knows that PED’s are rife across football, and it’s a matter of public record that Guardiola has been surrounded by suspicion for a long time … and I’ll get to why shortly.

Everyone with any knowledge of PED’s knows that improved muscle mass and “bulking up” can happen with them and frequently does … and as for “draining the batteries”, one sport aside from football has shown that’s not true at all.

Who says “Healing Hans” is talking crap?

German’s own anti-doping agency NADA, which flatly contradicted him.

“It’s about speeding up recovery in football, treating injuries faster and more effectively, and reducing convalescence. If prohibited substances and methods are used, then that’s also doping,” they said. They pointed out that there is more to doping than use of steroids or stimulants, “therefore doping in football cannot be excluded from the NADA’s point of view.”

Nor should it be, and in particular when you look at the clubs that make up the Red Bull family … and the man who directs the diagnostic training centre which lays down the planning for all the clubs which fit into its sphere.

Bernd Pansold was hired early in his career by Dynamo Berlin, then run by the Stasi, the East German secret police.

He was heavily involved in doping during that time, and not only in football.

He was later charged, and convincted, in a case which involved doping children.

He flatly denies that he has any involvement in doping these days … but that, too, is pretty slippery of him.

Because of course, the organisation he works for is virtually in the doping business … but legally.

The effectiveness of his techniques lie in their impact on another sport and the dark science that surrounds it.

It’s here that the roots of the current trend in Germany lie.

Let’s talk about cycling … and caffeine.

Doping In Cycling And The “Miracle Of Leicester.”

In 2016, Jamie Vardy gave a remarkable and eye-popping interview to The Sun where he talked about his “match-day routine”, which he “adopted” at the start of the 2013-14 season, and which it’s thought he still maintains to the present day … although he now tops it off with Port, as unbelievable as that sounds.

Vardy is a modern football miracle, a Roy of The Rovers type success story.

Two years before adopting his “routine” he had been playing lower league football with Fleetwood, where Celtic had scouted him, been interested in signing him but ultimately passed.

A year after he did, Claudio Ranieri arrived at Leicester.

By the following summer, Vardy was in a team chasing the title and would finish the campaign a mere goal behind the Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. Nevertheless, he swept the Player of the Year awards and found himself the first pick for England.

What was the secret of his incredible success? “Three Red Bulls, a double espresso and an omelette” on the day of each game.

That very same year, a cyclist named Dan Stevens blew the whilste on a doping scandal involving a doctor named Mark Bonar. Stevens had been caught using a performance enhancing drug, and he implicated Bonar.

Bonar himself then blew the whistle and claimed that he had provided off the books treatment to more than 150 UK sportspeople from a variety of pursuits including football. He implicated four clubs in his allegations.

All four clubs issued statements categorically denying everything he said.

They were Arsenal, Chelsea, Birmingham and, of course, Leicester.

The controversy flared briefly in the media, as numerous other football scandals have, and then it was gone.

Within anti-doping circles, Leicester’s denial that they had any involvement with Bonar was viewed with a great deal of mirth. Because by 2015 they had no need to go outside of the club to find someone with a refined knowledge of that dark art.

Because they were already employing one, and had been since Ranieri brought him to the club on his own arrival.

In 2007, the all-conquering Italian bicycle team Mapei were turned upside down and inside out due to a doping scandal which sent their sponsors running and their competitors to the lawyers. Patrick Lefévère, a Belgian cycling legend, and their one-time team director, stood accused of decades of doping involving the teams under his supervision.

Mapei’s descent into cheating Hell had been charted by a documentary on the German TV station ARD, which had also exposed the avalanche of doping in Russia. The cycling team had spent years telling all and sundry that they weren’t concerned by the doping all around them, that they played it straight and kept it clean. This was proven to be a lie.

One of the individuals who had worked alongside Patrick Lefévère at Mapei was an Italian named Andrea Azzalin.

He was the man who Ranieri would work with at Monaco and at the Greek National Team. At Monaco the pair of them were responsible for taking a Ligue 2 team to the top flight and a second place in the league.

At Leicester they went even further.

One of the main weapons in the cycling war is caffeine … the great stimulant that gives Red Bull its wings.

Azzalin is an expert on its effects … he wrote a paper on it; “Effect of caffeine on perception of effort in sedentary subjects.”

Aaah, people will say; “sedentary” – which means sitting down – can’t be applicable to football.

No? Well just read the study criteria …

“The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of caffeine ingestion on total work, average power, oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate (HR) and energy expenditure (kJ) during stationary cycling at a standardised power output, as well as during a set time period where participants were required to cycle as fast as they could.”

The “sedentary” part is the least of it … this was about how to use caffeine to increase stamina and energy levels.

Cycling is a proving ground for all manner of substances and ideas.

That’s why there have been so many scandals in the sport, and why the rate of serious health conditions and even deaths is higher in that sport than is normal elsewhere.

This is how that paper opens; “The common belief that caffeine improves both mental and physical performance, combined with the removal of caffeine from the banned substances list on the 1st of January 2004 by the World Anti-Doping Agency has led to its widespread use amongst athletes competing in many sports.”

That the ideas from cycling have drip-drip-dripped into football is not up for the slightest dispute; the founder of the Mapei Sports Centre, where Lefévère and Azzalin worked, was a guy called Dr. Aldo Sassi.

They were bankrolled by a guy called Roberto Squinzi.

He owns an Italian football team, FC Sassuolo. In 2012, Mapei signed partnerships with Juventus and, not coincidently, Monaco … who had signed up Ranieri and their protégé Azzalin followed.

But more pertinently, and revealing how the lines all meet in England, Aldo Sassi’s brother went to England at the same time as Azzalin did, to work at Chelsea.

He went from there to become a part of the backroom team at Juventus … where he remains to this day.

Some of what happened at Leicester could be described as plainly miraculous; that, alone, is a suspect word because it implies that what happened there is so extraordinary that it defies logic and explanation … but there’s always an explanation.

People have pointed to the incredible fitness of their footballers, and how they went through the season with a small squad and virtually no injuries. How was that done?

Ask Jamie Vardy, the non-league footballer who conquered the EPL.

Guardiola, City … And A Brief History Of Doping Around The World.

It all comes back to cycling.

In 2004, a Spanish cyclist named Jesús Manzano gave an interview to the media in which he laid out numerous allegations of doping involving his own team and others.

One of the men most heavily implicated in this scandal was a doctor named Eufemiano Fuentes.

Within two years, he was standing trial for his part in one of the most dreadful scandals in a sport which has had more of them than you can count. Amongst the evidence seized during the investigation into his actions were dozens of “blood bags” containing plasmafrom athletes who he had treated in the course of his wide-ranging experiments.

The focus of all the attention was on cycling.

The tendrils reaching into other sports were never fully examined.

A verdict on some of those other sports is awaited by WADA to this day, but Manzano himself implicated footballers as being involved … and he named two clubs in particular.

They were Barcelona and Real Madrid.

You can see why Spanish authorities aren’t terribly interested in getting to the bottom of that.

During the period being covered by the investigations, a certain Pepe Guardiola was at Barcelona, as a player. He left in 2001, to play for Brescia, and it was shortly afterwards that he tested positive for nandrolone, a banned substance.

He was not the only player who was connected to Barcelona at the time who had; seven months before, our old friend Frank De Boer had also scored a positive test for the same drug.

The doctor who had worked with both players was Ramon Segura; he gave evidence in the Guardiola case where he claimed that he had given both players the substance by accident … this was a defence the player didn’t even bother to use. The other members of his medical team claimed that nandrolone could occur naturally in the blood at low levels … and when the case was finally resolved – and Guardiola cleared – that, indeed, was the finding of the courts.

But Segura, who had been willing to take that whopper to a tribunal with him, actually ended up back at Barcelona when Guardiola was appointed manager there.

Over the course of that spell, Pepe built the most successful football team ever to play the game.

He went from there to Bayern Munich, where he worked with “Healing Hans” and his medical team who had helped build that club into such perennial winners winning the Bundesliga with any other club had proved more difficult than winning the SPL with a club outside Celtic Park.

It seems likely that Guardiola has been at the centre of the doping culture since he was a player, in all its various guises, and what he learned in Italy, Spain and Germany, about the “science” of performance enhancements he brought to Manchester City with him … and almost since the day and hour he got there, his club has been at the centre of allegations.

Take Dr Andrew Johnson, who worked with their youth academy.

In 2018 he was reported to the UK doping agency for putting fraudulent information on a TUE form for a player at Bury, where he was also working. TUE stands for therapeutic use exemption; literally, it’s a “legit” reason why a sports doctor might prescribe a banned substance to a player. The form in question allowed an un-named footballer at that club to use a banned substance, believed to be testosterone, on “medical grounds”.

In 2017, Manchester City were accused of having violated the testing regulations three times in five months, and also ignored a legal letter which was sent to them weeks before the final offence.

These cases revealed just some of the way that a club like City can manipulate the system to avoid “random” testing … in one case a player missed a test because his hotel address was no longer correct. In another, reserve players were not tested because the club didn’t inform the testing agency that they had been given the day off training. In the third case, the club failed to inform testers about a first team training session that they had added to the schedule.

For these breaches, they were fined a modest £35,000. It’s chump change when you consider the costs of losing a top footballer or footballers to a positive drug test for months.

Then, in 2019, there was the strange case of Riyad Mahrez, who the FA specifically chose for a drug test after he’d had an unspecified operation to clear up a “breathing issue.”

We have no way of knowing, either, whether City players were amongst the 13 cases which the English FA covered up between 2012-2016, on the grounds that the players had used “recreational drugs” and should get “counselling and rehabilitation” instead of punishment.

Don’t forget, that English football had a doctor linked to a high-profile doping case – Rob Chakraverty –  at the very heart of the FA itself … he’s now at Wolves.

What do we know – what do we really know – about football’s relationship with doping?

Well, we know from an article by Miguel Delaney that it’s alleged that Everton’s 1963 league title winning team were all on Benzedrine, Drinamyl and other substances.

That Stanley Matthews used to dope before games.

We know that Inter Milan’s team of the 1960’s – yes, the one we beat in Lisbon – were using amphetamines which their notorious manager got antsy about providing in pill form and started diluting into the coffee; they even had a name for it. “Il Caffe Herrera.”

And we know now that Celtic were victims in the Champions Cup in 1970, because Feynoord were doping all the way through that campaign, with up to eight players at a time on performance enhancing drugs during that run.

How do we know that?

Because Rinus Israel, their captain, admitted it years later, when it was too late to do any damned thing about it.

To pretend it doesn’t happen now is crazy.

And since caffeine fell off the banned list in 2004, as Azzalin pointed out in his paper on the subject, its use has exploded across sports in general and cycling and football in particular.

Which brings us full circle to Germany, where they’ve elevated its use to an art form, and finally to Anfield and Jurgen Klopp and from there, at last, to Ibrox itself.

The Klopp Revolution And What It’s Built On.

To win, you have to be willing to go further than the other guy will.

To win you have to be willing to use every tool at your disposal.

Celtic has failed to do this which is why the Ibrox club is sitting atop the league right now, having financially doped itself to the gills.

But to truly understand the transformation at Ibrox it might be necessary to go back a couple of years to the start of the Jurgen Klopp era at Anfield. Because he brought with him, from Dortmund, a number of ideas which so revolutionised the game that everyone’s been trying to copy them since, with radically varying degrees of success and failure.

All of them have fallen short because they’re missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

In public, at least, Liverpool are very open about their use of performance enhancing substances.

But they claim that the substances in question are perfectly legal and not amongst those which are banned … and that might very well be the case, but it raises the hairs on the back of your neck just the same.

To fully understand it, you have to look at the system Klopp pioneered and brought with him from Dortmund; the famous gegenpress. The idea of counter pressing is not new in football; indeed, one of the reasons the battle between Guardiola and Klopp is so compelling is that both men utilise a different version of it.

But Klopp’s is the most famous.

At the very heart of it, the system depends on teams being almost supernaturally fit.

The energy levels needed to play a high-pressing game for 90 minutes are extraordinary enough.

But to be able to do it for an entire season must be incredibly taxing.

On top of that, players have to be super-sharp and alert … and it just so happens that the products of the cocoa plant in its many forms have proved quite brilliant at giving users that kick and that burst of energy.

It’s why caffeine is one of the most used substances on the planet today.

Klopp has had years now to study this in full, as his compatriot at Manchester City has.

These guys have pioneered the art of squeezing every last morsel of energy out of the footballers in their charge.

They know how it works, and they can afford the best sports scientists on the planet to help give their teams that edge.

What do you think all that money these clubs spend in this field goes out on?

Good doctors are ten a penny. These guys are true innovators.

Listen to Callum McGregor talking about Dubai to understand it; where do you think these ideas about hot weather training giving players a boost upon returning to cold climates came from?

This is on the cutting edge of the science of sport, which Rodgers brought with him.

It didn’t work well this time around because of all the chaos that surrounded the trip, but there’s plenty of science to back up the general idea … which isn’t to say we should have gone or that the trip itself is defensible.

But there is an underlying logic behind some of it.

That’s what these guys do … it’s just that some of them are more willing to push the envelope than others. Some of them are willing to go that bit further than they probably should. The same applies to players, which is why you’ll get someone like Vardy who’s willing to really go all-in with his health – maybe even his life, which I’ll talk about later – to reach the top.

And Klopp, and Liverpool, are quite open about at least some of their methods.

The most notorious is the “Klopp formula” which the players drink.

This stuff has a quite incredible history; it was created by the German swimmer Mark Warnecke, who in 2005 became the oldest person to win an international swimming contest since the 1970’s.

He ascribed this success to his nutritional intake, and never missing a trick, his countryman offered him a job at Anfield, where he produced the stuff for the Liverpool footballers.

According to Sport Bilde, he developed two separate formulas for the players, which they drink after every match and training session.

His co-worker at Anfield is the nutritionist Mona Nemmer, who’s last job was at Bayern Munich under the watchful eye of old “Healing Hans” himself. Because a little knowledge goes a long way and some is too good to waste.

How good is the “Klopp formula”?

Well Warnecke gave it to another swimmer, the American Dana Torres.

As a result, according to reports, she was able to post faster times in the pool at 40 than she had gotten when she was 20. If it sounds unbelievable, I assure you it’s a fact … and you only have to look at the Liverpool title winning team and their boundless energy to recognise that there was something more than just hard working in training going on.

The formula raised hackles in England, and in particular at the anti-doping agencies.

They tested it and found that it does not contain “banned substances.”

Which is all well and good except that there are a lot of non-banned substances – of which caffeine is just one – which can give athletes an extra kick … but at what future cost?

A lot of people would rather not ask that question, but we’ll get to it.

Klopp has been at Anfield now since 2015.

His ideas have sharpened. The expertise of his coaches has only grown.

These guys are amongst the smartest kids in the class when it comes to using performance enhancing substances … and these can generate almost mind-boggling results, as the Klopp formula proves, as the Miracle of Leicester ably demonstrates, as Guardiola has known his whole career and as the likes of Jamie Vardy can attest.

Not to mention Lance Armstrong and half of the Russian Olympic dynasties.

Gerrard and his coaching staff spent three years working under, and with, Klopp and his team of geniuses.

Manchester City uses the same techniques throughout their setup.

The Red Bull teams, run by a famed East German doctor who doped kids, can certainly attest to it.

Do you think the Anfield youth sides weren’t at the cutting edge of science?

Whatever Klopp and his team knows, Gerrard and his team know as well.

We know that Klopp had one goal in mind when he took over at Anfield; to break the curse and restore the club to its place of prominence in English football.

To do that meant having to beat a Manchester City side with its own stunning level of expertise, and uncompromising will to win.

Gerrard and his coaching staff faced an even more pressing situation, and with a ticking clock in the background, and they did so at a club cloned from one that itself would have done just about anything to win, would have paid any price, faced any cost.

And to prove it, they kept on spending money even when the grave beckoned, even to the point of trying to sign a footballer when in administration.

They had on their board a man who went on to chair the new club, a man who broke every rule there was, who is a tax cheat and a pariah in the country he calls home and who the City of London blacklisted.

Is it a stretch to suggest that in their desperation they might have done anything?

That they might have done everything? 

I don’t think it is.

The Ibrox Connection And A Disturbing Question

Does this explain the current form of the club playing out of Ibrox? Is this compelling and shocking list of doping and the way caffeine has become the drug of choice for sportsmen who wish to gain an advantage over their competitors give you pause for thought?

Because let me tell you something, it stands up.

Look at their over 30’s players. Defoe is older than Scott Brown but when he plays he seems, at times, to be years younger. Davis still helms their midfield and McGregor is as alert as he ever was.

And whilst we’re on the subject of alertness, we’re talking here about a team that not only runs for 90’s minutes every single week but who’s defence is so sharp in its concentration levels than they barely concede goals. Good coaching, sure … but really?

How do you transform Connor Goldson from the shambling ruin our strikers loved to come up against into a player who looks a mile better than anyone in our back line? Hard work on the training ground? Don’t make me laugh, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

Gerrard and his team have clearly done wonders for the organisation of the team … that’s just crystal clear. But the improvements as so marked that they even bother some of the Ibrox supporters.

As I’ll reveal in the next section, much of the spadework for this article comes from a series of article by a guy called Alan Moore. An article he did on Liverpool so tugged at the brain of one of my friends, that he sent it to me to see what I thought.

Moore has written extensively on the subject of doping in football, and the reaction to the article in question sparked such debate that he did two follow up pieces – both published this very month – and it was in the second of those, when he talked about how the piece had gone down with fans of various clubs, that I really found the thread that linked all this together.

“The most balanced response, from even the most dedicated Liverpool supporters, was – “I hate that it’s happening, but I’m sure it is and it points to an illness in sport.” Self-reflective Glasgow Rangers fans even questioned their own club and body changes in players.”

This is so noticeable that even some of their own fans are questioning it … and it’s made me ask questions about our own successes of the past four years, and in particular the Invincible campaign.

In an environment like Celtic, where someone like Lawwell is standing over everything, you doubt that it’s possible … but you just never know.

I know enough about what’s been happening at Celtic, and in particular a harrowing story about Kieran Tierney being expected to take multiple injections of pain killers to get through games, to understand that we’ve pushed the envelope a little bit ourselves.

But Rodgers inherited the work Ronny Deila had done and built on it with modern knowledge and innovations which took us to a whole new level … you can account for our success, that and the fact we were going up against a bona-fide shambles and had no need to gild the lily. It’s much harder to account for what’s happened at Ibrox this year.

Not all of it can be explained away by Gerrard spending money.

Indeed, so much of that money has been wasted that the £30 million plus he’s spent on the team can barely be seen on the park most weeks. The improvements to pretty sub-par individuals like Glen Kamara, Goldson, Tavernier … they are just off-the charts remarkable, and because of that suspect.

What niggles at me over and over again is that Liverpool brought in Klopp because he was the best in the business and they wanted results that no-one else could get.

The Ibrox club brought in a rookie with no experience of first team football management at all and trusted him through two trophyless seasons and then into the biggest campaign they’ve ever had to play.

There was nothing in Gerrard’s CV to justify that appointment, or that level of faith … yet they kept him there for this campaign. To call it a risk is an understatement … unless they believed that certain tweaks and experiments and ideas were starting to show promise.

And this isn’t just in Scotland of course; how does this rag-bag band go from obscurity in Europe to suddenly topping groups? Is Gerrard a managerial genius?

His win record at Ibrox before this campaign started was below that of every Celtic manager of the modern era, so I would suggest not.

This season, they have lost a single game, including matches in the Europa League.

None of it makes a bit of sense … until you put it all within the historical context I’ve laid out here and then you start to ask yourself if things aren’t suddenly clear.

So if it’s true, how do you beat a team like this?

How do you know that the future won’t resemble the past, and that anything you do isn’t just a waste of your time?

Well, like everything else that happens at Ibrox, if this theory is even remotely on the money this is short-term thinking to a fare-thee-well.

Because this little experiment can’t last out indefinitely.

If it could, and with caffeine no longer on WADA’s banned substances list, every club would be doing it.

So why don’t they do it?

Frankly, because it’s dangerous, even in the hands of the world class experts the elite clubs can afford.

When it’s been tried elsewhere, it has had profoundly tragic consequences.

And in this, lies the dark heart of the matter … and our own opportunity.

The Year Three Problem And Celtic’s Opportunity

Alan Moore is a writer based in Russia, where some of the biggest sports scandals emerged from. He has been writing about doping in football for a long time, and his concerns aren’t centred around how doping robs honest clubs of success. Indeed, Moore is pretty clear in his belief that there are no truly honest clubs and just degrees of cheating.

Some clubs are richer than others and can afford better experts.

Some are just so determined to win that they’ll do anything for the short term fix. To keep pace with them, other clubs have entered this crazy doping arms race, not really caring how it might end up.

No, Moore’s concern is for the footballers at the centre of all this because this stuff can do tremendous long term damage, and in a shocking number of instances has actually contributed to the early deaths of footballers all over the world … and this is a trend that has only grown as some of the deadlier practices from cycling have crept into the sport.

He cites a 1991 article in The New York Times entitled “Stamina-Building Drug Linked to Athletes’ Deaths”; it was about an alarming number of deaths in cycling. There was a spike of deaths in Belgium and Holland in between 1987 and 1990, when the introduction of one specific substance into the game was linked to 20 deaths.

There was another spike in 2003-04 where eight more died.

The number of deaths amongst footballers has been climbing steadily for years, but they barely blip on the horizon because they are still rare, and they usually happen outside of the top nations.

But the harder teams push their players, the more likely this becomes.

What the top clubs have learned – to the costs of others elsewhere – is that you can’t do this year after year without momentous risks to the health and safety of your footballers. Which is why the article that sparked my interest in all this, written in September of last year, is entitled “Why Liverpool won’t win the Premier League this season.”

The basic thesis of that article is that Liverpool, this season, are in a “down-cycle”, with the use of caffeine and other performance enhancers effectively curtailed. The cycle runs for around two years … with the peak performance coming in the second, as happened with Guardiola at City and then with Klopp at Anfield. Moore thinks the cycle is even more critical in a league like the EPL where stamina and speed and aggression are the primary requirements.

A little bit like the SPL.

The same pattern can be seen when you look at certain players, and I go back again to Vardy, who scored 5 in 36 games in season 2014-15 and then, under Ranieri, battered in 26 in 38 the following season, before he dropped backwards again.

What you notice when you look at the Ibrox club is that they seemed to get stronger as last season went on, until whatever happened on their own ill-fated Dubai trip. Most people believe that had they maintained the pre-Dubai form they’d have won the title; I am not so sure but the improvement between season 1 and season 2 was obvious.

But the improvement between season 2 and season 3 is so stark that it blows your mind.

The only genuine contemporary for it is Klopp’s run at Anfield, where in 2017-18 they were fourth and 25 points behind a Manchester City team that got 100 points. The following season’s improvement was so massive that they scored 97 points themselves … but still lost the league to City. Which makes sense as they were in their own two-year cycle.

City’s collapse last year was predicted by Moore, and Liverpool did not disappoint.

They went from a 25-point deficit in 2018 to winning the league by 18 on 99 points in the space of just two campaigns.

It is breath-taking form … and utterly inexplicable.

And it sounds familiar as well.

But look at the collapse of City in that period; they posted two outstanding league records of 100 points and 98 points to finish last year on 81. They won the Charity Shield and the League Cup, quite a fall from a place where, at their peak just two years before, they looked like they might do a clean sweep and win every single trophy.

Liverpool, this season, have dropped points in ten games out of 19 in the league. They lost the Community Shield to Arsenal. The same team knocked them out of the League Cup. Manchester Utd took care of them in the FA Cup.

If Ibrox is in the second year of the cycle, it means that next year is the one where they either take the foot of the gas or they risk the health and wellbeing of their players in a way that even the club at Ibrox before them would never have dared.

Moore has charted what happens when athletes are pushed too hard beyond their limits; they start to break down both physically and psychologically, with the latter perhaps even more damaging than the former.

Because the stuff we’re talking about here isn’t the same as you or I having a cup of coffee in the morning; we’re talking mega-dosages here which even in the short term can have some pretty dramatic and damaging effects on people, and it’s not the only drug being used, and which is entirely legal. Moore writes, amongst other things, about the use of inhalers for players without asthmatic conditions and other weird and wonderful modern “tricks.”

And all of them are potentially lethal.

None of this is to say that Celtic has nothing to fear next season; we have to do our own jobs right and get things done in a professional manner. If we appoint the right management team and they bring in good sports science people of their own, we will be in a good position to capitalise on any Ibrox collapse which might be just around the corner.

Which brings me to one last question; how far would we go to grab back the crown?

When Moore put up a poll in his native Russia he asked them how many would accept their own team doping if it guaranteed success. Over 70% said they would be happy with that, and presumably these are people who read his stuff and know the risks involved.

It’s easy to say “yeah but that’s Russia” … but I suspect, as he does, that the result of that poll would be replicated in most countries which love the game.

This article is the longest I’ve ever tried to write.

It is the most detailed I’ve ever put together.

But this piece is clearly important because of the questions at the heart of it, so please share it and review it and leave your thoughts on it wherever you can.

There will undoubtedly be a follow up article or two on this, and I have no doubt that it will get a barrage of criticism from right across the spectrum. Remember I’m not alleging any wrongdoing here … and the use of caffeine and other supplements not banned by WADA is perfectly legit.

The moral questions, and the all-too obvious dangers, are another thing entirely.

Thanks to Alan Moore for writing the excellent works on which this is based, and which can be found at the website of Back Page Football, at this link. 

 

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You don’t deserve a single thing  Your focus has been on rangers UEFA license rather than your playing squad   Your demise has cost you a potential £30 million in champions league money 

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17 minutes ago, esquire8 said:gold, especially those from this creatures own kind.

Always dreamt 55 would be glorious for us and maybe a laugh or two at their expense for trying to kill us, but this is fucking mental.

55 is going to fucking END them.

Delete the pricks link please so he doesn’t get the traffic as I’ve pasted the shite below 

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1 minute ago, esquire8 said:

I put it up for the replies. Not for the link. One look at the title of the link should put everyone off anyway. Never read it myself and never will. Who the fuck out of our support has time to read a 7,000 word report that's full of tarrier conspiracy shit?

It took me longer to cut and paste it but I skimmed over it in about a minute 

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18 minutes ago, Bad Robot said:

From almost the moment celtic secured eight in a row, and the countdown to ten could start for real, one question has haunted the thoughts of many of our supporters and it’s this;

How far might the Ibrox club be willing to go to stop us from reaching that milestone?
 

The answer was that they would do whatever they thought they could get away with.

All of us knew that part of the strategy would be an aggressive campaign of financial doping.

But there are other kinds of doping, and it is high time we gave them some thought.

Understand that what you are about to read is not an allegation regarding anyone at Ibrox, or indeed anywhere else. It merely asks a series of questions, based on a lot of background information which is in the public domain.

It raises issues which you would hope that a serious media might wish to take a look at.

It even asks questions of supporters, including our own, and what we might be prepared to tolerate if it means success for our teams.

These are serious questions. This is a serious piece.

I am going to split it up into sections, because that’s the best way to lay out the background to the story before we get to the actual guts of what I’m going to write.

So bear with me through the early parts; they will provide the framework for the last two sections.

Where possible I intend to reference my sources.

There are a lot of them out there. Once again, I’ll say that I’m making no direct allegationsagainst anyone … indeed, as you’ll read, the central theory relates to practices that aren’t even banned.

I’m simply presenting facts that are in the public domain and which you can interpret as you will.

The central questions at the centre of this article are these; is the current Ibrox team “built” not on robust training and coaching methods but on the dark side of sports medicine?

Are these really sustainable foundations at the club that calls itself Rangers, or is this yet another illusion in a long list of them over there?

In short, are these really days of hope or they drifting on a haze of dope?

Would their supporters or their friends in the press or our so-called leaders at the SFA care either way?

And perhaps most importantly, would we if it were us?

A Brief History Of Doping In German Football

They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and doping has been around in German football, in one version or another, for years. Germany is not the only place this has happened, but it’s the place where most attention has been focussed because of the high profile nature of the allegations and one of the individuals who spoke out on it; Joachim Low, the national coach.

He was dragged into an ever 

s that his former clubs had used anabolic steroids to build up players whilst he was there as a footballer. He denied it all, and it went away in much the same way as the Italian manager Antonio Conte has never been asked to explain allegations that he used a banned substance as a player.

Allegations involving Germany go back to the 1950’s.

Their 1954 and 1966 World Cup teams have long been at the centre of doping allegations, and indeed in 1966 three of their players did test positive for banned substances, but incredible there were no sanctions.

It is now believed that their 1954 team were regularly receiving injections with a banned substance which had been used to keep exhausted soldiers on the battlefield during the war.

Peter Neururer might not be a familiar name to many people on this side of the world, but he still works in German football today, and he raised quite the scandal in 2007 when he said that doping practices were “rife” in Germany at every level in the sport. He specifically cited the club he had been in charge of in the 1990’s – Schalke 04 – as a sterling example.

Former directors at Eintracht Braunschweig would later admit that they knew their own players were being doped during or around that same time.

The bigger clubs maintain that the game is free of this scourge.

Banned substances so rarely turn up in testing that most assume the game is squeaky clean, but this is not the case.

Doping has simply become more sophisticated and harder to detect … and some methods which are highly dangerous are actually quasi-legal although for how much longer remains to be seen.

In 2018, a major war of words blew up between Pepe Guardiola and Bayern Munich’s club doctor Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt– nicknamed “Healing Hans” – over what he perceived as a tendency with Guardiola to rush players back from injury before they are fit.

Guardiola, of course, had worked alongside him when the Spaniard was Munich’s head coach.

The debate somehow spilled over into discussions about performance enhancing drugs; Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt went on to deny that they are used in football, and offered a medically unsupportable reason why they wouldn’t work.

“It would make no sense to bulk up in football—the muscles would become too heavy. They’d lose elasticity. If a player were to take stimulants, his batteries would be empty after that and he would experience a drop in performance in the following match. As far as I can oversee it, there is no doping in football,” he said.

But as most people who’ve looked at the issue are aware, that’s arrant nonsense … and not only is it blatantly untrue, but it actually misrepresents the real problem. For openers, he knows that PED’s are rife across football, and it’s a matter of public record that Guardiola has been surrounded by suspicion for a long time … and I’ll get to why shortly.

Everyone with any knowledge of PED’s knows that improved muscle mass and “bulking up” can happen with them and frequently does … and as for “draining the batteries”, one sport aside from football has shown that’s not true at all.

Who says “Healing Hans” is talking crap?

German’s own anti-doping agency NADA, which flatly contradicted him.

“It’s about speeding up recovery in football, treating injuries faster and more effectively, and reducing convalescence. If prohibited substances and methods are used, then that’s also doping,” they said. They pointed out that there is more to doping than use of steroids or stimulants, “therefore doping in football cannot be excluded from the NADA’s point of view.”

Nor should it be, and in particular when you look at the clubs that make up the Red Bull family … and the man who directs the diagnostic training centre which lays down the planning for all the clubs which fit into its sphere.

Bernd Pansold was hired early in his career by Dynamo Berlin, then run by the Stasi, the East German secret police.

He was heavily involved in doping during that time, and not only in football.

He was later charged, and convincted, in a case which involved doping children.

He flatly denies that he has any involvement in doping these days … but that, too, is pretty slippery of him.

Because of course, the organisation he works for is virtually in the doping business … but legally.

The effectiveness of his techniques lie in their impact on another sport and the dark science that surrounds it.

It’s here that the roots of the current trend in Germany lie.

Let’s talk about cycling … and caffeine.

Doping In Cycling And The “Miracle Of Leicester.”

In 2016, Jamie Vardy gave a remarkable and eye-popping interview to The Sun where he talked about his “match-day routine”, which he “adopted” at the start of the 2013-14 season, and which it’s thought he still maintains to the present day … although he now tops it off with Port, as unbelievable as that sounds.

Vardy is a modern football miracle, a Roy of The Rovers type success story.

Two years before adopting his “routine” he had been playing lower league football with Fleetwood, where celtic had scouted him, been interested in signing him but ultimately passed.

A year after he did, Claudio Ranieri arrived at Leicester.

By the following summer, Vardy was in a team chasing the title and would finish the campaign a mere goal behind the Golden Boot winner Harry Kane. Nevertheless, he swept the Player of the Year awards and found himself the first pick for England.

What was the secret of his incredible success? “Three Red Bulls, a double espresso and an omelette” on the day of each game.

That very same year, a cyclist named Dan Stevens blew the whilste on a doping scandal involving a doctor named Mark Bonar. Stevens had been caught using a performance enhancing drug, and he implicated Bonar.

Bonar himself then blew the whistle and claimed that he had provided off the books treatment to more than 150 UK sportspeople from a variety of pursuits including football. He implicated four clubs in his allegations.

All four clubs issued statements categorically denying everything he said.

They were Arsenal, Chelsea, Birmingham and, of course, Leicester.

The controversy flared briefly in the media, as numerous other football scandals have, and then it was gone.

Within anti-doping circles, Leicester’s denial that they had any involvement with Bonar was viewed with a great deal of mirth. Because by 2015 they had no need to go outside of the club to find someone with a refined knowledge of that dark art.

Because they were already employing one, and had been since Ranieri brought him to the club on his own arrival.

In 2007, the all-conquering Italian bicycle team Mapei were turned upside down and inside out due to a doping scandal which sent their sponsors running and their competitors to the lawyers. Patrick Lefévère, a Belgian cycling legend, and their one-time team director, stood accused of decades of doping involving the teams under his supervision.

Mapei’s descent into cheating Hell had been charted by a documentary on the German TV station ARD, which had also exposed the avalanche of doping in Russia. The cycling team had spent years telling all and sundry that they weren’t concerned by the doping all around them, that they played it straight and kept it clean. This was proven to be a lie.

One of the individuals who had worked alongside Patrick Lefévère at Mapei was an Italian named Andrea Azzalin.

He was the man who Ranieri would work with at Monaco and at the Greek National Team. At Monaco the pair of them were responsible for taking a Ligue 2 team to the top flight and a second place in the league.

At Leicester they went even further.

One of the main weapons in the cycling war is caffeine … the great stimulant that gives Red Bull its wings.

Azzalin is an expert on its effects … he wrote a paper on it; “Effect of caffeine on perception of effort in sedentary subjects.”

Aaah, people will say; “sedentary” – which means sitting down – can’t be applicable to football.

No? Well just read the study criteria …

“The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of caffeine ingestion on total work, average power, oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate (HR) and energy expenditure (kJ) during stationary cycling at a standardised power output, as well as during a set time period where participants were required to cycle as fast as they could.”

The “sedentary” part is the least of it … this was about how to use caffeine to increase stamina and energy levels.

Cycling is a proving ground for all manner of substances and ideas.

That’s why there have been so many scandals in the sport, and why the rate of serious health conditions and even deaths is higher in that sport than is normal elsewhere.

This is how that paper opens; “The common belief that caffeine improves both mental and physical performance, combined with the removal of caffeine from the banned substances list on the 1st of January 2004 by the World Anti-Doping Agency has led to its widespread use amongst athletes competing in many sports.”

That the ideas from cycling have drip-drip-dripped into football is not up for the slightest dispute; the founder of the Mapei Sports Centre, where Lefévère and Azzalin worked, was a guy called Dr. Aldo Sassi.

They were bankrolled by a guy called Roberto Squinzi.

He owns an Italian football team, FC Sassuolo. In 2012, Mapei signed partnerships with Juventus and, not coincidently, Monaco … who had signed up Ranieri and their protégé Azzalin followed.

But more pertinently, and revealing how the lines all meet in England, Aldo Sassi’s brother went to England at the same time as Azzalin did, to work at Chelsea.

He went from there to become a part of the backroom team at Juventus … where he remains to this day.

Some of what happened at Leicester could be described as plainly miraculous; that, alone, is a suspect word because it implies that what happened there is so extraordinary that it defies logic and explanation … but there’s always an explanation.

People have pointed to the incredible fitness of their footballers, and how they went through the season with a small squad and virtually no injuries. How was that done?

Ask Jamie Vardy, the non-league footballer who conquered the EPL.

Guardiola, City … And A Brief History Of Doping Around The World.

It all comes back to cycling.

In 2004, a Spanish cyclist named Jesús Manzano gave an interview to the media in which he laid out numerous allegations of doping involving his own team and others.

One of the men most heavily implicated in this scandal was a doctor named Eufemiano Fuentes.

Within two years, he was standing trial for his part in one of the most dreadful scandals in a sport which has had more of them than you can count. Amongst the evidence seized during the investigation into his actions were dozens of “blood bags” containing plasmafrom athletes who he had treated in the course of his wide-ranging experiments.

The focus of all the attention was on cycling.

The tendrils reaching into other sports were never fully examined.

A verdict on some of those other sports is awaited by WADA to this day, but Manzano himself implicated footballers as being involved … and he named two clubs in particular.

They were Barcelona and Real Madrid.

You can see why Spanish authorities aren’t terribly interested in getting to the bottom of that.

During the period being covered by the investigations, a certain Pepe Guardiola was at Barcelona, as a player. He left in 2001, to play for Brescia, and it was shortly afterwards that he tested positive for nandrolone, a banned substance.

He was not the only player who was connected to Barcelona at the time who had; seven months before, our old friend Frank De Boer had also scored a positive test for the same drug.

The doctor who had worked with both players was Ramon Segura; he gave evidence in the Guardiola case where he claimed that he had given both players the substance by accident … this was a defence the player didn’t even bother to use. The other members of his medical team claimed that nandrolone could occur naturally in the blood at low levels … and when the case was finally resolved – and Guardiola cleared – that, indeed, was the finding of the courts.

But Segura, who had been willing to take that whopper to a tribunal with him, actually ended up back at Barcelona when Guardiola was appointed manager there.

Over the course of that spell, Pepe built the most successful football team ever to play the game.

He went from there to Bayern Munich, where he worked with “Healing Hans” and his medical team who had helped build that club into such perennial winners winning the Bundesliga with any other club had proved more difficult than winning the SPL with a club outside celtic Park.

It seems likely that Guardiola has been at the centre of the doping culture since he was a player, in all its various guises, and what he learned in Italy, Spain and Germany, about the “science” of performance enhancements he brought to Manchester City with him … and almost since the day and hour he got there, his club has been at the centre of allegations.

Take Dr Andrew Johnson, who worked with their youth academy.

In 2018 he was reported to the UK doping agency for putting fraudulent information on a TUE form for a player at Bury, where he was also working. TUE stands for therapeutic use exemption; literally, it’s a “legit” reason why a sports doctor might prescribe a banned substance to a player. The form in question allowed an un-named footballer at that club to use a banned substance, believed to be testosterone, on “medical grounds”.

In 2017, Manchester City were accused of having violated the testing regulations three times in five months, and also ignored a legal letter which was sent to them weeks before the final offence.

These cases revealed just some of the way that a club like City can manipulate the system to avoid “random” testing … in one case a player missed a test because his hotel address was no longer correct. In another, reserve players were not tested because the club didn’t inform the testing agency that they had been given the day off training. In the third case, the club failed to inform testers about a first team training session that they had added to the schedule.

For these breaches, they were fined a modest £35,000. It’s chump change when you consider the costs of losing a top footballer or footballers to a positive drug test for months.

Then, in 2019, there was the strange case of Riyad Mahrez, who the FA specifically chose for a drug test after he’d had an unspecified operation to clear up a “breathing issue.”

We have no way of knowing, either, whether City players were amongst the 13 cases which the English FA covered up between 2012-2016, on the grounds that the players had used “recreational drugs” and should get “counselling and rehabilitation” instead of punishment.

Don’t forget, that English football had a doctor linked to a high-profile doping case – Rob Chakraverty –  at the very heart of the FA itself … he’s now at Wolves.

What do we know – what do we really know – about football’s relationship with doping?

Well, we know from an article by Miguel Delaney that it’s alleged that Everton’s 1963 league title winning team were all on Benzedrine, Drinamyl and other substances.

That Stanley Matthews used to dope before games.

We know that Inter Milan’s team of the 1960’s – yes, the one we beat in Lisbon – were using amphetamines which their notorious manager got antsy about providing in pill form and started diluting into the coffee; they even had a name for it. “Il Caffe Herrera.”

And we know now that celtic were victims in the Champions Cup in 1970, because Feynoord were doping all the way through that campaign, with up to eight players at a time on performance enhancing drugs during that run.

How do we know that?

Because Rinus Israel, their captain, admitted it years later, when it was too late to do any damned thing about it.

To pretend it doesn’t happen now is crazy.

And since caffeine fell off the banned list in 2004, as Azzalin pointed out in his paper on the subject, its use has exploded across sports in general and cycling and football in particular.

Which brings us full circle to Germany, where they’ve elevated its use to an art form, and finally to Anfield and Jurgen Klopp and from there, at last, to Ibrox itself.

The Klopp Revolution And What It’s Built On.

To win, you have to be willing to go further than the other guy will.

To win you have to be willing to use every tool at your disposal.

celtic has failed to do this which is why the Ibrox club is sitting atop the league right now, having financially doped itself to the gills.

But to truly understand the transformation at Ibrox it might be necessary to go back a couple of years to the start of the Jurgen Klopp era at Anfield. Because he brought with him, from Dortmund, a number of ideas which so revolutionised the game that everyone’s been trying to copy them since, with radically varying degrees of success and failure.

All of them have fallen short because they’re missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

In public, at least, Liverpool are very open about their use of performance enhancing substances.

But they claim that the substances in question are perfectly legal and not amongst those which are banned … and that might very well be the case, but it raises the hairs on the back of your neck just the same.

To fully understand it, you have to look at the system Klopp pioneered and brought with him from Dortmund; the famous gegenpress. The idea of counter pressing is not new in football; indeed, one of the reasons the battle between Guardiola and Klopp is so compelling is that both men utilise a different version of it.

But Klopp’s is the most famous.

At the very heart of it, the system depends on teams being almost supernaturally fit.

The energy levels needed to play a high-pressing game for 90 minutes are extraordinary enough.

But to be able to do it for an entire season must be incredibly taxing.

On top of that, players have to be super-sharp and alert … and it just so happens that the products of the cocoa plant in its many forms have proved quite brilliant at giving users that kick and that burst of energy.

It’s why caffeine is one of the most used substances on the planet today.

Klopp has had years now to study this in full, as his compatriot at Manchester City has.

These guys have pioneered the art of squeezing every last morsel of energy out of the footballers in their charge.

They know how it works, and they can afford the best sports scientists on the planet to help give their teams that edge.

What do you think all that money these clubs spend in this field goes out on?

Good doctors are ten a penny. These guys are true innovators.

Listen to Callum McGregor talking about Dubai to understand it; where do you think these ideas about hot weather training giving players a boost upon returning to cold climates came from?

This is on the cutting edge of the science of sport, which Rodgers brought with him.

It didn’t work well this time around because of all the chaos that surrounded the trip, but there’s plenty of science to back up the general idea … which isn’t to say we should have gone or that the trip itself is defensible.

But there is an underlying logic behind some of it.

That’s what these guys do … it’s just that some of them are more willing to push the envelope than others. Some of them are willing to go that bit further than they probably should. The same applies to players, which is why you’ll get someone like Vardy who’s willing to really go all-in with his health – maybe even his life, which I’ll talk about later – to reach the top.

And Klopp, and Liverpool, are quite open about at least some of their methods.

The most notorious is the “Klopp formula” which the players drink.

This stuff has a quite incredible history; it was created by the German swimmer Mark Warnecke, who in 2005 became the oldest person to win an international swimming contest since the 1970’s.

He ascribed this success to his nutritional intake, and never missing a trick, his countryman offered him a job at Anfield, where he produced the stuff for the Liverpool footballers.

According to Sport Bilde, he developed two separate formulas for the players, which they drink after every match and training session.

His co-worker at Anfield is the nutritionist Mona Nemmer, who’s last job was at Bayern Munich under the watchful eye of old “Healing Hans” himself. Because a little knowledge goes a long way and some is too good to waste.

How good is the “Klopp formula”?

Well Warnecke gave it to another swimmer, the American Dana Torres.

As a result, according to reports, she was able to post faster times in the pool at 40 than she had gotten when she was 20. If it sounds unbelievable, I assure you it’s a fact … and you only have to look at the Liverpool title winning team and their boundless energy to recognise that there was something more than just hard working in training going on.

The formula raised hackles in England, and in particular at the anti-doping agencies.

They tested it and found that it does not contain “banned substances.”

Which is all well and good except that there are a lot of non-banned substances – of which caffeine is just one – which can give athletes an extra kick … but at what future cost?

A lot of people would rather not ask that question, but we’ll get to it.

Klopp has been at Anfield now since 2015.

His ideas have sharpened. The expertise of his coaches has only grown.

These guys are amongst the smartest kids in the class when it comes to using performance enhancing substances … and these can generate almost mind-boggling results, as the Klopp formula proves, as the Miracle of Leicester ably demonstrates, as Guardiola has known his whole career and as the likes of Jamie Vardy can attest.

Not to mention Lance Armstrong and half of the Russian Olympic dynasties.

Gerrard and his coaching staff spent three years working under, and with, Klopp and his team of geniuses.

Manchester City uses the same techniques throughout their setup.

The Red Bull teams, run by a famed East German doctor who doped kids, can certainly attest to it.

Do you think the Anfield youth sides weren’t at the cutting edge of science?

Whatever Klopp and his team knows, Gerrard and his team know as well.

We know that Klopp had one goal in mind when he took over at Anfield; to break the curse and restore the club to its place of prominence in English football.

To do that meant having to beat a Manchester City side with its own stunning level of expertise, and uncompromising will to win.

Gerrard and his coaching staff faced an even more pressing situation, and with a ticking clock in the background, and they did so at a club cloned from one that itself would have done just about anything to win, would have paid any price, faced any cost.

And to prove it, they kept on spending money even when the grave beckoned, even to the point of trying to sign a footballer when in administration.

They had on their board a man who went on to chair the new club, a man who broke every rule there was, who is a tax cheat and a pariah in the country he calls home and who the City of London blacklisted.

Is it a stretch to suggest that in their desperation they might have done anything?

That they might have done everything? 

I don’t think it is.

The Ibrox Connection And A Disturbing Question

Does this explain the current form of the club playing out of Ibrox? Is this compelling and shocking list of doping and the way caffeine has become the drug of choice for sportsmen who wish to gain an advantage over their competitors give you pause for thought?

Because let me tell you something, it stands up.

Look at their over 30’s players. Defoe is older than Scott Brown but when he plays he seems, at times, to be years younger. Davis still helms their midfield and McGregor is as alert as he ever was.

And whilst we’re on the subject of alertness, we’re talking here about a team that not only runs for 90’s minutes every single week but who’s defence is so sharp in its concentration levels than they barely concede goals. Good coaching, sure … but really?

How do you transform Connor Goldson from the shambling ruin our strikers loved to come up against into a player who looks a mile better than anyone in our back line? Hard work on the training ground? Don’t make me laugh, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

Gerrard and his team have clearly done wonders for the organisation of the team … that’s just crystal clear. But the improvements as so marked that they even bother some of the Ibrox supporters.

As I’ll reveal in the next section, much of the spadework for this article comes from a series of article by a guy called Alan Moore. An article he did on Liverpool so tugged at the brain of one of my friends, that he sent it to me to see what I thought.

Moore has written extensively on the subject of doping in football, and the reaction to the article in question sparked such debate that he did two follow up pieces – both published this very month – and it was in the second of those, when he talked about how the piece had gone down with fans of various clubs, that I really found the thread that linked all this together.

“The most balanced response, from even the most dedicated Liverpool supporters, was – “I hate that it’s happening, but I’m sure it is and it points to an illness in sport.” Self-reflective Glasgow Rangers fans even questioned their own club and body changes in players.”

This is so noticeable that even some of their own fans are questioning it … and it’s made me ask questions about our own successes of the past four years, and in particular the Invincible campaign.

In an environment like celtic, where someone like Lawwell is standing over everything, you doubt that it’s possible … but you just never know.

I know enough about what’s been happening at celtic, and in particular a harrowing story about Kieran Tierney being expected to take multiple injections of pain killers to get through games, to understand that we’ve pushed the envelope a little bit ourselves.

But Rodgers inherited the work Ronny Deila had done and built on it with modern knowledge and innovations which took us to a whole new level … you can account for our success, that and the fact we were going up against a bona-fide shambles and had no need to gild the lily. It’s much harder to account for what’s happened at Ibrox this year.

Not all of it can be explained away by Gerrard spending money.

Indeed, so much of that money has been wasted that the £30 million plus he’s spent on the team can barely be seen on the park most weeks. The improvements to pretty sub-par individuals like Glen Kamara, Goldson, Tavernier … they are just off-the charts remarkable, and because of that suspect.

What niggles at me over and over again is that Liverpool brought in Klopp because he was the best in the business and they wanted results that no-one else could get.

The Ibrox club brought in a rookie with no experience of first team football management at all and trusted him through two trophyless seasons and then into the biggest campaign they’ve ever had to play.

There was nothing in Gerrard’s CV to justify that appointment, or that level of faith … yet they kept him there for this campaign. To call it a risk is an understatement … unless they believed that certain tweaks and experiments and ideas were starting to show promise.

And this isn’t just in Scotland of course; how does this rag-bag band go from obscurity in Europe to suddenly topping groups? Is Gerrard a managerial genius?

His win record at Ibrox before this campaign started was below that of every celtic manager of the modern era, so I would suggest not.

This season, they have lost a single game, including matches in the Europa League.

None of it makes a bit of sense … until you put it all within the historical context I’ve laid out here and then you start to ask yourself if things aren’t suddenly clear.

So if it’s true, how do you beat a team like this?

How do you know that the future won’t resemble the past, and that anything you do isn’t just a waste of your time?

Well, like everything else that happens at Ibrox, if this theory is even remotely on the money this is short-term thinking to a fare-thee-well.

Because this little experiment can’t last out indefinitely.

If it could, and with caffeine no longer on WADA’s banned substances list, every club would be doing it.

So why don’t they do it?

Frankly, because it’s dangerous, even in the hands of the world class experts the elite clubs can afford.

When it’s been tried elsewhere, it has had profoundly tragic consequences.

And in this, lies the dark heart of the matter … and our own opportunity.

The Year Three Problem And celtic’s Opportunity

Alan Moore is a writer based in Russia, where some of the biggest sports scandals emerged from. He has been writing about doping in football for a long time, and his concerns aren’t centred around how doping robs honest clubs of success. Indeed, Moore is pretty clear in his belief that there are no truly honest clubs and just degrees of cheating.

Some clubs are richer than others and can afford better experts.

Some are just so determined to win that they’ll do anything for the short term fix. To keep pace with them, other clubs have entered this crazy doping arms race, not really caring how it might end up.

No, Moore’s concern is for the footballers at the centre of all this because this stuff can do tremendous long term damage, and in a shocking number of instances has actually contributed to the early deaths of footballers all over the world … and this is a trend that has only grown as some of the deadlier practices from cycling have crept into the sport.

He cites a 1991 article in The New York Times entitled “Stamina-Building Drug Linked to Athletes’ Deaths”; it was about an alarming number of deaths in cycling. There was a spike of deaths in Belgium and Holland in between 1987 and 1990, when the introduction of one specific substance into the game was linked to 20 deaths.

There was another spike in 2003-04 where eight more died.

The number of deaths amongst footballers has been climbing steadily for years, but they barely blip on the horizon because they are still rare, and they usually happen outside of the top nations.

But the harder teams push their players, the more likely this becomes.

What the top clubs have learned – to the costs of others elsewhere – is that you can’t do this year after year without momentous risks to the health and safety of your footballers. Which is why the article that sparked my interest in all this, written in September of last year, is entitled “Why Liverpool won’t win the Premier League this season.”

The basic thesis of that article is that Liverpool, this season, are in a “down-cycle”, with the use of caffeine and other performance enhancers effectively curtailed. The cycle runs for around two years … with the peak performance coming in the second, as happened with Guardiola at City and then with Klopp at Anfield. Moore thinks the cycle is even more critical in a league like the EPL where stamina and speed and aggression are the primary requirements.

A little bit like the SPL.

The same pattern can be seen when you look at certain players, and I go back again to Vardy, who scored 5 in 36 games in season 2014-15 and then, under Ranieri, battered in 26 in 38 the following season, before he dropped backwards again.

What you notice when you look at the Ibrox club is that they seemed to get stronger as last season went on, until whatever happened on their own ill-fated Dubai trip. Most people believe that had they maintained the pre-Dubai form they’d have won the title; I am not so sure but the improvement between season 1 and season 2 was obvious.

But the improvement between season 2 and season 3 is so stark that it blows your mind.

The only genuine contemporary for it is Klopp’s run at Anfield, where in 2017-18 they were fourth and 25 points behind a Manchester City team that got 100 points. The following season’s improvement was so massive that they scored 97 points themselves … but still lost the league to City. Which makes sense as they were in their own two-year cycle.

City’s collapse last year was predicted by Moore, and Liverpool did not disappoint.

They went from a 25-point deficit in 2018 to winning the league by 18 on 99 points in the space of just two campaigns.

It is breath-taking form … and utterly inexplicable.

And it sounds familiar as well.

But look at the collapse of City in that period; they posted two outstanding league records of 100 points and 98 points to finish last year on 81. They won the Charity Shield and the League Cup, quite a fall from a place where, at their peak just two years before, they looked like they might do a clean sweep and win every single trophy.

Liverpool, this season, have dropped points in ten games out of 19 in the league. They lost the Community Shield to Arsenal. The same team knocked them out of the League Cup. Manchester Utd took care of them in the FA Cup.

If Ibrox is in the second year of the cycle, it means that next year is the one where they either take the foot of the gas or they risk the health and wellbeing of their players in a way that even the club at Ibrox before them would never have dared.

Moore has charted what happens when athletes are pushed too hard beyond their limits; they start to break down both physically and psychologically, with the latter perhaps even more damaging than the former.

Because the stuff we’re talking about here isn’t the same as you or I having a cup of coffee in the morning; we’re talking mega-dosages here which even in the short term can have some pretty dramatic and damaging effects on people, and it’s not the only drug being used, and which is entirely legal. Moore writes, amongst other things, about the use of inhalers for players without asthmatic conditions and other weird and wonderful modern “tricks.”

And all of them are potentially lethal.

None of this is to say that celtic has nothing to fear next season; we have to do our own jobs right and get things done in a professional manner. If we appoint the right management team and they bring in good sports science people of their own, we will be in a good position to capitalise on any Ibrox collapse which might be just around the corner.

Which brings me to one last question; how far would we go to grab back the crown?

When Moore put up a poll in his native Russia he asked them how many would accept their own team doping if it guaranteed success. Over 70% said they would be happy with that, and presumably these are people who read his stuff and know the risks involved.

It’s easy to say “yeah but that’s Russia” … but I suspect, as he does, that the result of that poll would be replicated in most countries which love the game.

This article is the longest I’ve ever tried to write.

It is the most detailed I’ve ever put together.

But this piece is clearly important because of the questions at the heart of it, so please share it and review it and leave your thoughts on it wherever you can.

There will undoubtedly be a follow up article or two on this, and I have no doubt that it will get a barrage of criticism from right across the spectrum. Remember I’m not alleging any wrongdoing here … and the use of caffeine and other supplements not banned by WADA is perfectly legit.

The moral questions, and the all-too obvious dangers, are another thing entirely.

Thanks to Alan Moore for writing the excellent works on which this is based, and which can be found at the website of Back Page Football, at this link. 

 

Quick get Mulder and Scully on this immediately, oh wait, they are total fiction too

Bad Robot likes this
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3 minutes ago, RFCRobertson said:

The level of research to put into that and then hes sat down for however long to draft it, write it and then check it 🤣

It's seriously straight jacket stuff

He’s googled different articles on doping, pieced then together and then stuck us in it. An absolute moonhowler  and hater of the highest order. A guy you wouldn’t stop kicking 

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2 minutes ago, RFCRobertson said:

So had a read over it and it is actually interesting in places with the history of doping but ultimately he even defeats his own arguement by saying at the start, in the middle and end it is all legal.

So he's basically just trying to wrap it up in a "morally bad thing to do" sort of thing. But like bad robot said the vast majority of it is from someone elses research papers and this is really just twisted to make us look morally bad i guess?

Still mental to write such a large piece on your rivals for I presume no real reward (unless he gets ad revenue on the webpage it links too). 

I can think of another football club who are “morally bad” for a very very very (ad infinitum) reason but that has been  “immorally ignored” and trivialised. 

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Just now, GM63 said:

I can think of another football club who are “morally bad” for a very very very (ad infinitum) reason but that has been  “immorally ignored” and trivialised. 

Sure we could write a 7000 piece essay about pedos and wedge the taigs in there somehow

 :boughy:

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Just now, RFCRobertson said:

Sure we could write a 7000 piece essay about pedos and wedge the taigs in there somehow

 :boughy:

The absurdity of us legally using caffeine - we know its bollocks - , whilst they illegally used children then covered it up, and this person couldn’t fin 7 words for that but 7000 on nothing illegal, that’s my definition of a cockwomble.

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