Tue, Mar 22, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Barca legend calls for Real apology after doping row

AFP, MADRID

Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff called yesterday for Real Madrid to apologize after they were implicated in doping accusations against his former club.

A Spanish radio station, COPE, quoted an unidentified Real Madrid “representative” as saying the club had asked the Spanish soccer federation to take drug testing more seriously.

According to the radio station’s March 13 report, Real Madrid could not understand how doctors with “questionable reputations” could work for Barcelona. It also cast doubt on doctors working for Valencia. Barcelona and Valencia have angrily denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the radio station, which has apologized, but not retracted the report.

“The accusation is too serious, too brutal, for there not to have been apologies, and well-presented too,” Cruyff said in his weekly column for the Catalan daily El Periodico de Catalunya.

Apologies should have been given “by Real Madrid themselves,” Cruyff said, not for being the accusing party, but because they were implicated in the row.

Real president Florentino Perez reportedly personally telephoned his counterpart at Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, to deny he was the source of the radio station’s story. Rivalry and sportsmanship were not mutually exclusive, Cruyff said, praising rival clubs including Real for showing support for Barca’s Eric Abidal, who had surgery to remove a liver tumor on Thursday.

“It is hard for a sports player to show a gratuitous lack of due public respect to any rival. For those who are off the field, that is to say, those who are not and have not been sports players, it comes too easily,” he said.

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