dopingThe Football Association have defended its anti-doping rules after Dispatches program of Channel 4 revealed names of several players who have failed drugs tests. The Association said its policy is to keep names of players who fail tests for social drugs out of competition private though a punishment of up to six months for first-time offenders can be given out.

Players should be allowed privacy to get help for their problems, when required, according to the association that added that there is no guideline for identifying those who have failed tests for recreational drugs away from game time.

The Dispatches program named players with experience of the Premier League but not active in the top flight for testing positive for cocaine. It was stressed by the FA that it is working hard for eliminating all illegal substances and underlined that players testing positive for social drugs would face punishment even if their names were not disclosed.

The association remarked that any player who fails to clear a test for a performance enhancing drug is named, irrespective of whether he or she is tested in or out of competition. The FA said in a statement that the association conducts a comprehensive anti-doping program that is the largest of any sport in the United Kingdom besides prohibiting all the doping offences listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency code and applies all the sanctions laid down in the WADA code for the offenses. It added that the association that is supported by all the football stakeholders recognize the issues that are or may be caused by use of social drugs by players and even choose to go beyond the World Anti-Doping Agency code by proactively testing all samples for social drugs, irrespective of whether the tests are conducted in or out of competition.

The Football Association added that football is one of the only sports in the United Kingdom that ban use of social drugs at all times and every defaulting player is charged and sanctioned that ordinarily includes a suspension from all football activity for a period of up to six months for a first time offense. The players are also subjected to target testing for a period of two years and names of such players may not be reported to help the player undergo any necessary rehabilitation and counseling. The FA added that while Premier and Football League clubs and players are subject to strict FA whereabouts regulations, all England representative teams are subject to UEFA and FIFA regulations and further added that players are drug tested on a no-advance notice basis. In case of any breach of the FA whereabouts regulations, the clubs or players are subject to disciplinary processes.

David Howman, director general of the World Anti Doping Agency, said the Football Association should consider naming all drug-using players, no matter what they are found to have taken or when they are tested. Howman added that the FA should do well to make its doping detection program fully transparent and avoid so much secrecy.



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