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Football: Scotland pals, drugs and whatreally went on in the World Cup drugs BY ARCHIE GEMMILL; ARCHIE GEMMILL THE TRUTH RELY ON YOUR FOR THE REALLY BIG STORIES ...

I'VE just had a terrible week which threatens to damage my relationship with fellow former Scotland players I respect.

Remember the Willie Johnston drugs scandal at Argentina 78?

I do, clearly, and there is an account of it in my autobiography in which I reveal that three other Scotland players were on the same pep pills that got Willie sent home from the World Cup.

I won't name those players - and never will - because it has never been my intention to cause anyone any embarrassment. My word is my bond.

Also, I wouldn't like anyone to run away with the idea I have created this whole controversy to help sell the book. I would have named the trio if that was the case.

Even now, I am extremely reluctant to stir up the whole hornet's nest again just when I had hoped to be looking forward to a few days in the sun after 'Both Sides of the Border' comes out tomorrow. It's time to move on.

But I do feel it's important people know the truth, because that is a virtue I prize highly.

One reporter on The Sunday Times simply exaggerated the whole affair when he claimed, discussing the stimulants, I told him in an interview: "I saw the guys openly taking them in the changing rooms. It was something that, seemingly, quite a few people did but it was the first time I had seen it.

"I had never witnessed anything like it before but the atmosphere soon changed."

I never said that. But those few sentences were seized upon by other papers and news outlets and I started getting phone calls from TV and radio stations to justify them.

I've been at home in Scotland, doing my best to concentrate on preparing our Under-19 team for friendly matches against Denmark in a double-header on Tuesday and Thursday.

The controversy is something I could have done without.

When I refused to elaborate on something I'd never said in the first place, the media moved on to quiz several senior Scotland internationals of my vintage.

They came out and said I needed to substantiate the situation and that because I had started to explain something, I should complete it.

That is what I'm doing today.

They must have thought I had started fantasising, judged purely on what they had read.

Do you seriously imagine, for one moment, that players "openly taking" prohibited substances in a crowded dressing-room of 20 or so people, is the sort of thing which could be hushed up and swept under the carpet for 27 years?

And anyway, as it was once explained to me, to derive any benefit from those pills which apparently boost the central nervous system and energy levels, they need to be taken substantially before kick-off.

So those players misguided enough to dabble in banned substances would take them alone, almost certainly in the privacy of their own hotel rooms.

Alan Rough, our goalkeeper in Argentina is reported to have said: "I believe there were two or three others. To me though, it was not a drug.

"It was just one of these banned substances that were on a medical list, that nobody knew what they were, similar to the British skier who used the nasal inhaler."

I am also led to believe that Radio Clyde pundit Derek Johnstone, who was with Scotland in Argentina, has supported my side of the story.

For the record, on the left of this page, is what I've written at the start of Chapter 17, entitled 'Trouble In Argentina.'

WHAT I ACTUALLY SAID:

"THREE other Scotland players were on the same pep pills that got Willie Johnston sent home from the World Cup in Argentina, in June 1978.

"I know who they are and I know they brought the stuff with them from their clubs.

"It"s not my job to expose the trio more than 25 years later and I have no inclination to cause them any embarrassment.

"Let's just say I hope they have had time to consider the dreadful damage they might have caused Scottish football and learned the error of their ways.

"I"m glad it"s not a guilty secret which has ever cost me any precious sleep.

"It"s all water under the bridge, much like the evidence, which was flushed down the toilets when we returned to the team hotel in the wake of a dreadful 3-1 spanking by Peru.

"It was like Niagara Falls, there was so much rushing water that night.

"Any casual guest would have thought we were all suffering from Montezuma"s revenge after a particularly spicy South American supper.

"The gear was Fencamfamin which, apparently, contained similar properties to amphetamine and cocaine. Willie whined about innocently taking a flu tonic and some stuff to combat hay fever, but he confessed later.

"He was banned from playing for Scotland for life and I last heard he was running a pub in Fife."Extracted from Both Sides Of The Border: My Autobiography by Archie Gemmill, published by Hodder & Stoughton available from tomorrow priced pounds 18.99.

CAPTION(S):

BITTER PILLS: Scotland star Willie Johnston was sent home from the 1978 World Cup in disgrace (below), which made front page headlines back in Britain (above)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2005
Words:880
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