Wednesday, 26 April 2017

LN: Drug case may affect top Czech football

ČTK |
20 April 2017

Prague, April 19 (CTK) - The drug trafficking trial, which opened on Tuesday and which seems to involve two football players who played several matches with the national team, may affect top Czech football financially as well as socially, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Wednesday.

The key figure in the case is a former poker player, Vitezslav Meisner, who is charged with dealing in ecstasy and cocaine. The detectives believe that football player Ondrej Vanek (Ufa, formerly Viktoria Plzen) bought drugs from Meisner. Another player, Jan Kopic (Viktoria Plzen), lent half a million crowns to Meisner. Both players are witnesses in the case.

The police monitored Meisner from 2015 and they wiretapped his phone.

The public Czech Radio (CRo) reported that Vanek told the detectives he did not use drugs, but the wiretappings indicated that the opposite was true. Meisner said Vanek was his friend and that both of them used drugs.

Kopic got acquainted with Meisner through Vanek. According to CTK's information, Vanek had a strong influence on Kopic.

Vanek has not played for the national team since September 2015. He was one of the passengers in the crashed car of his team player David Limbersky who was caught drink driving then.

The Viktoria Plzen club said it had no information about Vanek's activities revealed within the latest court case.

The club said its players have undergone 24 doping tests in the recent years and none of them has tested positive, Kopic including. The only player who tested positive, allegedly for methamphetamine, was David Bystron in 2011, the club said.

If the investigation shows that the players used hard drugs, the football association might start disciplinary proceedings with them, CRo said.

David Dusek, former head of the marketing partner of the Czech football association, told LN that the case might have a negative impact on the readiness of sponsors to provide financial support for top football.

Dusek said partners of the football association insisted on their right to give up the contract on sponsorship in case of a possible scandal and on the introduction of fines for players of the national team involved in it.

Tabloid dailies revealed prostitutes in the hotel rooms of the Czech players shortly after their team lost a Euro qualifier against Germany in 2007. Five players were fined due to the scandal.

The main sponsor of the top Czech league, the ePojisteni.cz online insurance provider, takes a reserved stance on the fresh court case involving football players, LN writes.

"We do not know the players personally, we heard of the case only from the press. We consider the use of banned performance enhancers and drugs by a professional player absolutely unacceptable," ePojisteni.cz marketing director David Holy said.

Czech anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said cocaine and ecstasy is an issue in sport clubs from football to figure skating. "I often hear that sport is a prevention of drug abuse, but our data do not show this," he told the paper.

Voboril said athletes should realise that stricter rules applied to them.

Czech doctor Miroslav Havrda pointed out that such drug cases had bad influence on young people and were a bad example to follow.

Havrda said football clubs cannot effectively punish the potential culprits because professional players are not employees of the club but have a self-employed status. "If a club finds out that its player took dope, it can cancel the contract with him at the most, but nothing more," he said.

Referring to the court case, Havrda said nobody can prove now whether a player played a top league match under the influence of drugs at the close of the last season.

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