For a while, tiny Algeria had a world-class soccer team. But years later, players are asking if performance-enhancing drugs administered by Soviet trainers played a role in the success. Why the suspicion? Seven of the players have since fathered handicapp
The 1980s were a golden age for Algerian football. A generation of talented stars led the tiny country to two World Cup appearances – Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986 – and provided a feast of memories that even today still fill Algerians with pride. Yes, but…
More recently this golden era has lost much of its shine as the sad family sagas of several players have given rise to uncomfortable questions about what exactly allowed Algeria's Fennecs Foxes – as the team is called – to shine quite so bright.
At least seven players from that legendary 1980s generation have fathered children who are physically and mentally handicapped. Compared to natural occurrence in the general population, this proportion is well above the norm. In fact, it's downright scary.
Three former players decided to break their silence and demand the situation be investigated. What they suspect is that there is a link between the handicapped children and performance-enhancing drugs the players may have been given during their international glory days.
In June 2010, Kaci Said, a defenseman on Algeria's 1986 World Cup team, together with teammate Mohamed Chaïb, spoke with the Algerian newspaper Le Buteur, asking whether "the Soviet doctors at the time pumped us full of performance-enhancing drugs that were dangerous for our health." From 1960 onward, Algeria and the USSR enjoyed close relations after the Soviets became the first country to recognize the new post-independence government.
More recently, former striker Djamel Menad stated on Nessma TV that he has a clear memory of the "yellow pills' that a Soviet doctor – pretending they were vitamins – offered the players. The AFP quoted Mohamed Chaïb earlier this week as saying: "We just want the truth." A simple request. But sometimes the truth is a lot to ask.
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