A former AC Milan player with a rare and fatal disease which has baffled medical experts has admitted he and other players in the Italian club were ‘victims’ of doping in the 1960s and 70s.
Carlo Petrini is one of dozens of ex-footballers in Italy suffering from the fatal ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) - a classic motor neuron disease which is progressive and fatal, and whose cause is unknown.
Now aged 60, Petrini says he and others were ‘victims’ of a culture of doping at the Italian club, who won the first of their seven European Cup/Champions League titles in 1963.
‘As well as being given medicine, I was also a victim of doping. I say victim, because to me that’s what I am,’ Petrini, who notably also played for Genoa, Torino and Roma, told the Sky Sport 24 on Friday.
'The first time, the doctor, masseur and coach came into the dressing room. The doctor had a vial in his hands which looked like a bottle of Orangina with a soft stopper.
'At that time disposable syringes didn’t exist so big glass syringes that were boiled up along with the needles were used. That day, the needle went into the vial five times before being injected into five different thighs.
'It was only afterwards that we realised what we’d been given because whether it was running, jumping, falling, or going for goal we had energy to burn. We felt fresh and just didn’t run out of energy.
‘Every day there were injections going around. Some (players) injected themselves because they didn’t trust the masseurs.’
Petrini, who in 2001 published a book in which he slammed past doping practices in the game, said some of the side effects of the unknown products he claims were administered was producing ‘light green saliva’.
He added: 'Sometimes your tongue was so swollen it filled the entire mouth. We had to run about with our mouths open.
‘At the end of the match we thought it would end there, but you had so much energy left you couldn’t sit still. At three or four (o’clock) in the morning, when fatigue started to set in, you’d fall asleep on the spot.’
Petrini said his reason for speaking out is the lack of accountability from the club’s past management.
“No one took the time to find out whether these (doping) products were harmful or could cause irreparable damage to our health,” he added.
'When you’re 20 years old, you think you’ll live forever, that you’re untouchable so you don’t put up any resistance.
‘It would be hypocritical to now say, ‘I wouldn’t do that again’. But if someone had said to us back then, ‘Listen guys, if you take this you should know you risk a few problems in 30 years time’, then I would have refused.’