Romanian game in crisis after Mutu’s failed drugs test

The Star
Wednesday October 20, 2004

Romanian game in crisis after Mutu’s failed drugs test

BUCHAREST: Romanian striker Adrian Mutu’s positive test for cocaine is a
savage kick in the stomach for a nation already winded by soccer scandals.

The 25-year-old, a hero among his compatriots, now faces a two-year ban
after testing positive for the recreational drug on Oct 1.

The Chelsea player is said to be `destroyed’ by the positive test. Its
effect on the reputation of soccer in the east European nation could be no
less damaging.

Mutu’s admission of guilt comes days after three Farul Constanta players
were banned for doping offences by Romania’s Professional Soccer League.

Midfielders Adrian Senin and Iulian Apostol are sidelined for six months
after they tested positive for a diuretic. Teammate Mihai Baicu was banned
for the same period after admitting supplying them with urine for their

Mutu’s positive test will hurt a nation which leans heavily on its national
team’s success to help it forget chronic poverty and continued frustrations
after the 1989 fall of communism.

Certainly Romanian captain Cristian Chivu was dismayed by the news. `I’m
shocked’, the defender who plays his club soccer at Italy’s AS Roma said

`If I return now to the national team, who will be my teammates?’

Teenage fan Adrian Iacob didn’t mince his words when he called private
Europa FM radio.

`It’s a disaster,’ the young Steaua Bucharest supporter said. `Politics,
alcohol, corruption, injuries and now drugs. Things could not be worse for
Romanian soccer.’

Romanian supporters, almost inured to allegations of biased refereeing in
their leagues, never dreamed one of their idols could be involved in a
doping scandal. Soccer federation president Mircea Sandu may not have been
so surprised, however.

Admitting for the first time that some Romanian internationals led
unprofessional lives off the pitch, he said: `The sport doesn’t go with
alcohol and casino counters.’

In September, Romanian media reported that three players left the team hotel
the night before a World Cup qualifier against Macedonia to spend hours in a
nightclub. The national team’s staff denied the allegations at the time.

`Mutu’s case must be an alarm bell for all Romanian soccer players,’ Sandu
said. `The millions (of euros) arrived, but the whole sum can disappear in a

Mutu’s popularity soared after he scored for Romania when they beat
Macedonia and Finland in recent months.

Romania lead the World Cup European Group One standings with nine points
from four matches but will now travel to Armenia on Nov 17 without Mutu.

Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu, who is running for the ruling ex-communist
Social Democrat Party in November elections, has made no comment on Mutu’s
case. – Reuters