Worse Than Ben Johnson: Fiorentina Striker Adrian Mutu Takes Sibutramine

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIJanuary 28, 2010

FLORENCE, ITALY - JANUARY 10:  Adrian Mutu of ACF Fiorentina (R) in action against Sergio Bernardo Almiron (L) during the Serie A match between Fiorentina and Bari at Stadio Artemio Franchi on January 10, 2010 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

There's Ben Johnson, the doping dope stripped of his gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the 100m final.

There's also the fastest couple on earth, Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, who took the athletics world by storm with their performances in the 100m sprint, before crashing back down to reality and sitting in prison pondering over where it all went wrong.

These three athletes are amongst the worst drug cheats ever, being too blinded by the extrinsic rewards that come with success at the highest level in sport.

However, the worst of them all just has to be the guy from Romania that never learns.

ACF Fiorentina striker Adrian Mutu, who has scored four goals in 11 league appearances this season, has tested positive for the banned substance sibutramine.

A statement from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) read: "CONI announces that a positive test has been confirmed on Adrian Mutu with the presence of metabolics of sibutramine found in tests done by the FIGC on January 10 after the Serie A game between Fiorentina and Bari."

Sibutramine is effectively an anti-obesity drug, banned by governing bodies in virtually all professional sports.

If you think that's bad, it gets worse; the Romania international was sacked by Premier League giants Chelsea after testing positive for cocaine back in 2004, and was given a seven-month worldwide football ban.  

Chelsea sued Mutu for breach of contract, and the player is still in the process of making a third appeal against a fine levied at more than 17 million euros (£14.75 million).

You would've thought he'd have learnt by now not to cross the doping authorities again, but no, this foolish action of his in January 2010 is as high up there as the pinnacle of sporting stupidity.

Whilst Ben Johnson, Tim Montgomery, and Marion Jones were all using performance enhancing drugs, Mutu has now twice been caught in the act of taking drugs that do not boost sporting performance in any significant way.

But why would Adrian Mutu be so stupid as to ruin his career by taking a banned substance that doesn't have any impact on performance?

It's a question that only Mutu himself can answer.

The only logical reason for the Romanian using sibutramine would perhaps be that as an appetite surpressant, i.e. a diet pill, he could lose some weight and this could therefore improve his speed and acceleration, thus meaning he can close down defenders quicker and make better forward runs.

And why is a substance like sibutramine banned?

Sibutramine, like a lot of substances, can be addictive. Whilst it does not benefit an athlete in any significant way, it can be open to abuse due to its addictive nature.

Reportedly, three athletes from the USA (not the three above!) were banned when found positive with sibutramine, and were apparently unaware of the ban on the drug.

So perhaps Adrian Mutu was unaware that sibutramine is a banned substance?

Or maybe Mutu thought he could get away with taking the substance, considering it's an unlikely drug professional sportsmen would use.

Footballers, especially at the elite level, are most likely to be caught taking such things like anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, (HGH) or stimulants such as amphetamines or caffeine.

Blood doping is also commonly used in sport, benefiting a footballer by increasing their VO2 max (aerobic capacity) and thus their overall fitness and stamina.

Heck, if you wanted to improve performance on the pitch, then even something as ludicrous as increasing oxyhaemoglobin levels with the notorious erythropoietin (EPO) would be more useful than taking sibutramine!

All in all, Adrian Mutu has made possibly the worst decision a drugs cheat could make; having his glittering career at the pinnacle of the sport ruined by taking a simple diet pill.

Rumour has it the former Juventus man could potentially face up to four years on the sidelines.

If that's the case, then it seems clear his Fiorentina contract won't extend very far past its current expiration date of June 2012, if it even reaches that far at all.

A just punishment it would be for a player that simply cannot learn: cheaters never prosper.

And if you don't think that's true, then just ask either Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, or Tim Montgomery. Then again, at least they had the sense to get banned for something worthwhile, unlike that poor little fellow from Romania.


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