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  1. Media Law
July 19, 2018

Mail publisher pays ‘substantial damages’ to Brazilian footballer Roberto Carlos after wrongly claiming he used banned substances

By Sam Forsdick

The publisher of the Mail on Sunday has today apologised and agreed to pay “substantial” damages to Brazilian footballer Roberto Carlos after the newspaper wrongly claimed he had used performance enhancing drugs.

The Mail on Sunday published a story on 10 June 2017 with the headline: “Brazil legend Roberto Carlos in drugs storm”. The story was also published on Mail Online, with some minor changes.

The story claimed that Carlos (pictured) and a Brazilian national team mate were guilty of using banned substances provided by a doctor during the 2002 World Cup. A tournament which Brazil went on to win.

Carlos denied the doping allegations, which were first made in a documentary aired by German broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk Koln and issued libel proceedings against WDR and Mail publisher Associated Newspapers for the defamatory comments.

The footballer is no longer pursuing his claims against Associated Newspapers, part of Daily Mail and General Trust, after it offered to settle the matter out of court.

In a statement published today, the Mail said: “Our report on 10 June last year about claims made by a German television documentary wrongly accused football legend Roberto Carlos of using banned performance-enhancing drugs, including when Brazil won the 2002 World Cup.

“We accept that this allegation is untrue and apologise for the distress and embarrassment caused to Mr Carlos and have agreed to pay him substantial damages and costs.”

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In a statement in open court, Associated Newspapers offered Carlos a formal apology over the claims made in its articles.

A representative said: “My clients accept that the allegation Mr Carlos took performance enhancing drugs was untrue and they wish to offer him their apologies for the embarrassment and distress which the articles have caused him or his reputation.”

Carlos’ representatives said an allegation of drugs cheating was one of the most harmful allegations that can be made against a professional sportsperson and will have “seriously damaged” his reputation.

Carlos made 125 appearances for the Brazilian national football team before retiring from the game in 2012. In a statement he said: “The allegations against me were completely false and unfounded.

“I have never used banned drugs to cheat as the newspaper has now acknowledged without reservation.

“Those allegations caused me deep distress and embarrassment aside from being very damaging to my reputation.

“To be completely clear, I do not know and have never met the Brazilian doctor who was named in the articles as having supposedly administered performance-enhancing drugs to me.

“I am delighted that this matter has been brought to a successful conclusion and my reputation vindicated.”

The former Real Madrid player was represented by client law firm Brandsmiths.

Andy Lee, Senior Associate at Brandsmiths said: “It is hard to imagine a more serious allegation against any professional sportsman, let alone a sportsman of the international distinction and renown of Mr Carlos.

“We are delighted the firm has been able to use its experience in defamation matters to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion for Mr Carlos and to vindicate his good name.”

Picture: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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