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19th Oct 2023

‘Are they on something?’ – Gary Neville and Roy Keane disagree over drugs in football

Lee Costello

“Are they on something?”

Gary Neville and Roy Keane disagree over drugs in football during their playing years, as the conversation of doping and performance enhancing substances raises its head.

Eddie Hearn was a guest on this week’s Stick to Football podcast, and with the conversation being dominated by boxing, the question about doping was inevitably raised.

Boxing is notorious for fights being called off when boxers have been caught with an illegal substance in their body, or worse, when they have been caught but the fight still goes ahead.

Hearn, as head of Matchroom Boxing Promotions, has had to deal with his fair share of controversy when it comes to big fights being tainted with doping allegations and tests.

Eddie Hearn on why his boxing promotion finds more failed drug tests than others.

Explaining the process of testing for these substances, Hearn explains why Matchroom catch more fighters than any other organisation in the sport.

“I think drugs is a problem in all sports. Again we go back to greed and money, and anywhere there’s an edge for an athlete, then they are going to look into it, and in athletics it is probably the biggest problem, and cycling and boxing.

“We’re now getting into a situation where we are (Matchroom) investing more money than ever in testing – we have to pay for it, the board aren’t going to pay for it.

“We have additional random testing, because random testing is the key. The board will test on the night, but it’s a waste of time – if someone has cheated, they aren’t going to test positive on the night, you need to test them 10 weeks out, eight weeks out, and that’s what we do.

“We are having more adverse findings, so people turn around and say that Matchroom are having more adverse findings, but that’s because we’re the only ones testing.

“So you have to make a fighter feel like they are part of a testing programme. Unfortunately, we are going to get more fighters, testing positive, because we are testing so much more now.”

Gary Neville and Roy Keane disagree over drugs in football.

Panelist and former England international Jill Scott said that she was so paranoid about taking the wrong thing during her career, that she questioned everything.

“You get so many meetings about it with football, like I was scared of taking paracetamol,” said Scott.

This prompted Gary Neville to ask the question in relation to football: “Do we think it’s problem in football? When I was playing, I thought that football was clean.”

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane didn’t agree with Neville, as he remembered all of the rumours that surrounded Italian football during his playing days.

“I remember there was rumours about certain physios and medical staff in Italy. I remember we would play certain Italian teams, and after the game, you were absolutely drained but you looked at some of these players and they looked like they could play another 90 minutes.

“You would think ‘are they on something?’ but it’s proving it.”

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