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River Plate coach backs doping accused footballers

IANS logoIANS 24-06-2017

"I want to reassure the fan, the supporter, the River member, and the public in general. It has been a very difficult 24 hours," Marcelo Gallardo told a press conference on Friday, reports Efe.

The coach said he had full confidence in the integrity of the two players, Lucas Martinez Quarta and Camilo Mayada, who tested positive for water pills after separate matches in South America's Copa Libertadores tournament.

The club is taking "the measures necessary to amass evidence and try to explain it. This has surprised all of us," Gallardo said.

"We will try to have all the information possible to clear up these cases," he added.

While acknowledging that the provisional suspension of Quarta and Mayada is a problem given their importance to the team, the coach said that defending the players' integrity was "more important than any sporting result."

Gallardo was joined at the press conference by club physician Pedro Hansing, who said that the River medical staff does not keep on hand the diuretics the players are accused of taking.

Besides requesting that the players' samples be re-tested, River Plate wants a chance to make their case before the board of South America's Conmebol soccer federation, which organises the Copa Libertadores.

The team has never sought to gain an unfair advantage and has its own internal anti-doping regime, Hansing said.

The 26-year-old Mayada tested positive on May 18 after he contributed a goal and an assist to River's 3-2 win over Melgar in Arequipa, Peru.

Martinez Quarta, 21, was tested following River's 1-1 draw with Ecuador's Emelec on May 10.

River Plate's next scheduled Copa Libertadores match is set for July 4, the first leg of a knockout stage clash with Paraguayan club Guarani.

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