Arsène Wenger has called for the introduction of blood tests to combat doping cheats in football, as he voiced his fears about the extent of corruption in the world game. The Arsenal manager likened the scale of the week's match-fixing revelations, which Europol are investigating, to a tsunami, although he believes that English football has no problems in this area or with regard to the bribery of match officials.
He is less clear about the issue of doping here and he wants the greater transparency that blood tests would provide. At present, randomly selected players are merely required to give urine samples at the training ground or after matches. Wenger said that sport in general was "full of legends who are in fact cheats", with a nod towards the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. He wants football's reputation to be beyond reproach.
"Honestly, I don't think we do enough [on doping tests]," Wenger said. "It is very difficult for me to believe that you have 740 players at the World Cup and you come out with zero problems. Mathematically, that happens every time. But statistically, even for social drugs, it looks like we would do better to go deeper.
"I hope England is immune from doping but I don't know. When you have a doping control at Uefa [matches], they do not take blood, they take only urine. I have asked many times in Geneva [for that to be changed]. Sometimes, you have to wait for two hours after the game, so blood could also be a lot quicker.
"I hope we do not have a big problem with doping but we have to try to find out and see how deep we can go into control. I would support blood testing. Uefa are ready to do it but it poses some ethical problems because everyone has to accept that they will check the blood and not everybody is ready to do that."
Wenger also spoke of his frustration at the ongoing trial in Madrid of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, who was allegedly at the centre of the Operation Puerto doping ring. The trial has been limited to cycling, even though Fuentes himself has admitted to working with sportsmen from other fields. The former Real Sociedad president, Inaki Badiola, has said that before he took charge in 2008, the club had made covert payments for "medicines or products classified as doping" substances and that Fuentes "could have been" the supplier. His predecessor as president, José Luis Astiazarán, responded by saying: "I never had knowledge or suspicion of illegal practices by the club's medical services, who always worked to the maximum ethical and professional standards. If I had, I would have taken the necessary action."
"The Spanish doctor is in front of the justice just to see how he did doping," Wenger said. "They are not interested at all in who he has doped. They have found pockets of blood but they don't even ask to whom does that belong. The justice should go deeper. When you look at the functions of this doctor, it is quite scary. He was involved in the Olympic team, football team, cycling team."
Wenger has bitter experience of the impact of match-fixing from his time in charge at Monaco, when the club's main rivals for the French championship, Marseille, were found guilty of corruption in 1993, yet Europol's announcement that they had suspicions about 380 matches across Europe shocked him.
"For me, it's a real tsunami," Wenger said. "I was always a believer that there's a lot of cheating going on in our game and that we are not strong enough with what happens … not with the doping, not with the corruption of referees, not with the match-fixing.
"It's time that we tackle this problem in a very serious way and that people who cheat are punished in a very severe way as well. You cannot accept that somebody works the whole week to spend his money to go to a game and he is cheated, because all is decided before he gets to the stand. But I don't think at all that cheating or match-fixing is a problem in the English game."
Wenger expects Laurent Koscielny to pass a fitness test for Saturday's visit to Sunderland, which would spare him a central defensive headache, while he will omit the Ivory Coast winger Gervinho, after giving him a post-Africa Cup of Nations break. The Ivory Coast were knocked out last Sunday.
Wenger rushed Gervinho back after last season's Africa Cup of Nations and the player struggled for form. "I put him back in straight away and that was not a good decision," Wenger admitted. "I told him before this competition that I would give him five days [off]."