Did Soviet Doctors Dupe Algeria’s 1980s-Era Soccer Team Into Doping Up?

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

Algerian players celebrating a goal against Chile in the 1982 World Cup
Algerian players celebrating a goal against Chile in the 1982 World Cup
Simon Meier

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.

Read the original article in French

Photo - YouTube

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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