A coach in Zimbabwe's top flight has made the shocking claim that "almost 80% of Zimbabwean players are on drugs".
When Bulawayo City secured their first victory of the 2021/22 campaign after beating Highlanders 1-0 recently, reporters expected head coach Philani "Beefy" Ncube to talk about the tie in the post-match press conference.
He instead chose to hold one of the opposition players to account, insisting that the footballer was under the influence of drugs during the fixture.
"I can tell you that almost 80% of Zimbabwean (football) players are on drugs," he said, per The Herald.
"I will not mention names, but when we played Highlanders, there was a player from their end who was clearly under the influence (of drugs).
"He was just sleeping. I know for a fact that he takes drugs. Then you hear people saying the coach must go.
"... The biggest problem is that some of the fans are selling these substances to the boys.
"Yet they are the same people you will hear saying (coaches) Mandla Mpofu, Joey Antipas or Beefy must go."
According to the Ghana Guardian, the coach was referring to the misuse of BronCleer, a cough syrup that contains a combination of alcohol and codeine, but other narcotics remain an issue as well.
The manager then explained that his team turned their fortunes around after addressing the substance abuse issue in the camp.
"What I have asked these boys is that they should demand more from themselves,” Ncube continued.
"I told them to stay away from drugs and start believing in themselves.
"These youngsters are destroying themselves by taking drugs. It is a pity because the blame will always go to the coaches.
"But honestly, those managing these players should sit down with these boys and talk to them about this issue of drugs.
"Spending time at training helps. But we are coming from the Covid-19 situation where nobody was training.
"Before we started playing football again, the PSL [Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League] was supposed to bring in psychologists to try and help these boys and assure them that there is life after or during Covid-19. But that is an area that was not attended to until today.
"These boys have taken drugs as part of their lifestyle. The effects of their drug-taking tendencies will be so negative in the next four months.
"The PSL and the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe have to take action before the situation escalates.
"I can tell you these boys can pass a Covid-19 test, but not a doping test.
"The sad part is these things are even a trend at junior level which is sad."
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