17 May 2015

FA & Hull City Tigers suspend Jake Livermore after positive test

England’s Football Association (FA) and Hull City Tigers have provisionally suspended midfielder Jake Livermore following a positive drugs test. ‘Following suspension by the FA, the Club has subsequently suspended Jake Livermore pending further investigations to be made by the FA and our own internal disciplinary procedures’, read a statement from the FA Premier League club. An e-mailed statement from the Football Association read: ‘In line with its anti-doping regulations, the FA can confirm it has issued a provisional suspension to a participant following a positive test for a prohibited substance’. Both Hull City Tigers and the FA have declined to comment further.

It has been widely reported that Livermore tested positive for cocaine through a urine test given after a 25 April match against Crystal Palace, although this has not been confirmed by either the club, the FA or the FA Premier League. ‘The presence of a Social Drug in a Participant’s Sample or the Use / Attempted Use of a Social Drug by a Participant is an Anti-Doping Rule Violation both In Competition and Out of Competition’, reads the FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations & Procedural Guidelines 2014/15. Under Section 42 of these rules, the standard ban for a doping offence is two years, which can be reduced down to a warning and a reprimand, if it can be established that the doping was not intended to enhance sporting performance.

The FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations were introduced in 2014, before the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) introduced the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, which came into force on 1 January this year. The FA is a signatory to the 2015 Code, which raised the standard period of ineligibility to four years, unless an athlete can prove that the violation was not intentional, or if the anti-doping organisation can prove that the violation was intentional. However, Article 10.23 of the Code reads: ‘An anti-doping rule violation resulting from an Adverse Analytical Finding for a substance which is only prohibited In-Competition shall not be considered intentional if the substance is not a Specified Substance and the Athlete can establish that the Prohibited Substance was Used Out-of-Competition in a context unrelated to sport performance’. In cases such as these, the starting point for a ban is two years.

This means that if reports that cocaine is the substance involved are correct, Livermore (pictured playing for Tottenham Hotspur) is likely to face a sanction of two years. It is unclear whether he will be able to reduce this sanction down under the applicable FA rules referred to above, as they were introduced to cover the 2014/15 season – i.e. before the new provisions within the 2015 Code came into force. During the 2013/14 season, the FA carried out 1,604 tests, which returned four anti-doping rule violations.

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