18 May 2015

Two more UK footballers fail drug tests

Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) and Sheffield United have suspended players for failing random drug tests, shortly after Hull City Tigers suspended Jake Livermore after a positive test. ‘Aaron McCarey has failed an out of competition Football Association (FA) drug test for a non-performance enhancing substance’, read a statement from Football League Championship team Wolves. ‘As a result, the Wolves goalkeeper is now subject to an immediate FA suspension from all competitive forms of football […] Aaron McCarey strenuously denies deliberately taking any banned substance.’

‘The Club has learned that one of its players, Jose Baxter, was found to have traces of a banned substance in his sample following a routine Football Association out of competition drug test’, read a statement from League One club Sheffield United. ‘The player has informed the Club that he engaged in no wrongdoing involving any banned substance’.

Both clubs and the FA declined to comment further while the FA investigation is underway. Under Section 42 of the FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations & Procedural Guidelines 2014/15, 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.

However, the FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations were introduced in 2014 to cover the 2014/15 season, 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 ban 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. It is therefore currently unclear as to whether the three players will be arguing against the starting point of a two-year or a four-year ban.

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