Arsene Wenger has called on UEFA to change its rules on drug cheats, saying the current regulations “basically accept doping”.
Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Arijan Ademi was handed a four-year ban for failing a drugs test after the Croatian side beat Arsenal in the Champions League in September.
Zoran Mamic’s side won 2-1 in Zagreb and now Arsenal face them again at the Emirates Stadium, knowing they must secure a victory to stand any chance of getting out of their group.
Wenger has been outspoken against doping, especially in a recent interview with L’Equipe Sport & Style, and questioned why UEFA rulings means there is no way of disqualifying a team from continental competition unless more than two players fail a test.
Asked if he found the regulations strange, Wenger said: “Yes, of course. It’s a surprising rule. Uefa applies the rule that is planned, but I personally don’t agree with the rule. You cannot say that they had a doped player but the result stands.
“That means you basically accept doping. But it is the rule and we accept that. We have to look at ourselves and deal with our own performance.”
The Frenchman believes the rules need to be altered, but admitted he did not know how much public backing he would receive after seeing Uefa’s doping team visit Arsenal’s training ground shortly after his recent comments.
“I don’t know if I would have the support of anybody but I came out on that and as a result we had a doping control from Uefa on Friday,” he added.
“We had 10 people on Friday to control us. I do not want to speculate too much on the career of a player. In between (the match in September and now) he has been punished. There are two things: our performance on the day and the fact that they had a doped player.”
The 2-1 loss in Croatia was the first of three damaging defeats in Arsenal’s first four Group F matches which have left their European hopes hanging by a thread. Even victory tonight may not be enough if Bayern Munich fail to beat Olympiacos in Germany.
Arsenal were thrashed 5-1 when they visited Munich a fortnight ago and they have now only won one in five. They passed up the chance to move to the top of the Barclays Premier League having slipped to defeat at West Brom on Saturday – a result made worse as key midfielder Francis Coquelin suffered a serious knee injury.
The 24-year-old has developed into a first-team regular at the Emirates Stadium with Wenger confirming he will be missing for at least two months and is hoping a scan does not rule the France international out for even longer.
Wenger said: ‘’It is at least two months, but I’m cautious as we had so many bad surprises on scans that I do not want to speculate more than that..”
While the January transfer window will give Wenger the chance to bring in another midfield recruit, he suggested he already has a number of options available to step into Coquelin’s place.
‘’It is, of course, a disappointment to lose him in the longer term, but we have in the squad the players who can compensate. We have lost a player of quality for a while, but we know that can happen,” he said.