Juventus doctor guilty of doping offences

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The Independent Football

The Juventus managing director, Antonio Giraudo, has been acquitted of doping-related charges but the club doctor, Riccardo Agricola, has been found guilty and sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison.

The Juventus managing director, Antonio Giraudo, has been acquitted of doping-related charges but the club doctor, Riccardo Agricola, has been found guilty and sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison.

The verdicts, handed down by judge Giuseppe Casalbore yesterday, bring to an end a Turin trial into alleged widespread doping at Juve between 1994 and 1998 - a period when the club won three Italian league titles, one Champions' League title and the Intercontinental Cup. Both men were tried under Italy's "sporting fraud" laws which were introduced to criminalise drugs cheats.

Emiliana Olivieri, Agricola's defence lawyer, revealed that her client was convicted for providing drugs to players during that period, including the banned hormone EPO. She plans to appeal against the verdict next year, when a detailed explanation of the judge's ruling will be released.

The verdict appeared to be a black mark for one of Italy's top teams. However, lawyers expressed some satisfaction at the ruling. "It's a sentence that went well for us because Giraudo was acquitted on all counts," defence lawyer Luigi Chiappero said. "I think we have excellent arguments and I hope these will be taken into account in the appeal."

Agricola will not serve any prison time as jail terms of under two years in Italy for first-time offenders are not implemented as a matter of course, but he will not be allowed to work as a doctor during that period.

The allegations about Juventus first surfaced in a magazine interview with Zdenek Zeman, who is now coach of Lecce but was then in charge of Roma, six years ago. Zeman, naming individual players, claimed that he thought their muscular development must have been chemically aided.

Olivieri described the case as "more a trial against the system of football and the use of drugs rather than a trial against Riccardo Agricola".

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