Juventus doctor Riccardo Agricola was today sentenced to 22 months in prison after being found guilty of providing a performance enhancing drug.
The verdict came at the end of a trial that began in September 2002 to look at allegations of doping at Italy’s most successful club. Agricola was also given a 2,000 euro fine. The club’s chief executive, Antonio Giraudo, was found not guilty.
The banned substance Agricola was found to billige fußballtrikots have administered was EPO, a synthetic hormone that stimulates the body’s production of red blood cells, increasing oxygen transport and endurance. He intends to appeal.
“We are very satisfied about Giraudo but there is a little bitterness for Agricola. He was condemned for what was the weak point of the prosecution’s charges, the administration of EPO,” said defence lawyer Paolo Trofino. “It is a sentence that will be difficult to get through appeal.”
Even if the appeal fails, experts say Agricola is unlikely to spend time behind bars because Italian courts frequently suspend sentences for first-time offenders.
The trial examined Juve’s medical practices from 1994 to 1998, a period during which they were Italian champions three times and European champions once (1996). The catalyst for the investigation came from comments made in 1998 by current Lecce manager Zdenek Zeman, who said fussballtrikots that Italian football needed “to get out of the pharmacy,” and referred specifically to Juventus.
Among the people called to give evidence during the trial were three times World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli and former European Footballer of the Year Roberto Baggio.
Turin public prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello reacted to today’s verdict by saying: “This is what I expected, but it is only the first step.”
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