Taylor: Failed tests a warning

Date published: Monday 18th May 2015 11:01

Sheffield United midfielder Jose Baxter is the latest player to fail an out of competition drug test by the Football Association when it was discovered he had traces of a banned substance in his sample.  

Last week Hull’s Jake Livermore tested positive for cocaine as part of a random drugs test after their 2-0 victory away to Crystal Palace on April 25, while Wolves keeper Aaron McCarey failed a test for a non-performance enhancing substance.

Baxter has been suspended by his League One club, while McCarey, according to the Wolves website, “is now subject to an immediate FA suspension from all competitive forms of football.”

Both players deny any wrongdoing. Livermore has been suspended by Hull for the remaining matches of the season.

PFA chief Taylor said the results were concerning and believes clubs and associations have to work together to ensure the message is getting across to players.

He said: “It’s been a matter of great concern as we’ve been drug testing now for some 35 years and we thought the message was getting through.

“The players have a whereabouts rule, they are tested on average some two-three times a year, maybe at matches or at training or, if they are injured, at home and the worry is that so many of these positive tests are related to what you’d call social recreational drugs, where of course they contain ingredients which are judged to be performance enhancing. So as a result they are on the banned list and of course it can lead to sanctions that are getting stronger.

“The sanctions from the world anti-doping agency are backed up by governments for all sports and, while in football we do separate testing for social drugs, there still can be severe penalties and can adversely affect a player’s career and of course it is not good for the club either and we’ve had these in the last few weeks.

‘More frequent’

“We’ve got to address our communications, a combined approach really from the PFA, from the clubs, from the FA, just to make sure the message is getting through and for players, no matter what or in what environment they are in, these ingredients can stay in their system and then can reveal a positive test. Whether it’s by mistake, unintentional, we don’t feel they are performance enhancing and I don’t think the players do that.

“But the list is there and it is down to the players at the end and we will have to address the players in all the particular circumstances and give them our full support. This is a real warning for the game.”

Taylor said that testing has become more frequent in recent years, with top-level international players subject to more tests than others, but that these may have to increase further in the light of recent results.

He said: “We’ve increased the testing throughout the years. That’s an average (figure) because players in the Premier League whose clubs are in the FA Cup or the League Cup and in Europe and then international players, they can be tested there as well.

“So for the very top players they can be tested at least a dozen times a year but clearly with what we’ve had of late then were going to have to look to address certainly the educational side of things and look indeed at the testing numbers as well.”

Taylor believes the responsibility is on the players to ensure they are avoiding banned substances of any kind, despite believing that many players who do return positive results are not looking to make themselves better footballers.

He added: “Drugs are a problem in society and I believe so many of social recreational drugs are taken in a context that is not about looking to make them better footballers but would be maybe when some alcohol has been taken, when players are switched off and even drinks can be spiked and mistakes can be made even buying things over the counter.

“But for all professional footballers, as with all other sportsmen and women, what they are ingesting they need to be very, very careful because the testing procedure is getting a lot more thorough and if it goes the wrong way then it can have a very bad effect on a player’s career and it’s a short career as it is and it doesn’t need to be limited by sanctions and suspensions because of drug taking.”

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