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Sunday, March 21, 2010

QPR Fined by The Football League

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The Times - Dozens of footballers are missing out-of-competition drug tests John Goodbody and David Owen

- TWO FOOTBALL League clubs have been fined for failing to abide by the FA’s doping control regulations, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, with dozens of players missing out-of-competition tests in England.
- QPR and Bradford City have been fined £6,000 and £1,000 respectively for repeated failure to provide accurate information to sampling officers trying to locate players they want to test
- It is prohibited for a player to miss three tests in an 18-month period — anybody who does so faces a lengthy ban. The failure of a club to give the FA accurate information concerning the whereabouts of players is also prohibited.
- The Sunday Times has seen figures that suggest players and clubs are failing in their responsibilities under the regulations at an alarming rate as the national game struggles to come to terms with requirements that are commonplace in other Olympic sports.
- The minutes of a meeting of the FA’s Professional Game Board, held last August, refer to a report by Terry Robinson, who chaired the meeting. It said that in a 20-month period from January 2008, 96 players had missed one test, while two players were on two strikes, just one missed test away from a one-year suspension, although one of these is no longer in the game.
- No fewer than 22 clubs, almost a quarter of those in the top flight of English football, were on one strike, and 13 on two strikes for “failing to provide necessary details of squad schedules”.
- Although there are concerns inside football that the doping control regime is too stringent for a sport that is not generally considered to have a problem with drugs, the FA’s enthusiasm for hosting major sports events has led to increased pressure to uphold internationally agreed anti-doping standards.
- These missed tests are embarrassing for the FA as it prepares for the 2012 London Olympics, together with its bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
- QPR’s fine was imposed in December, a particularly turbulent month for the club with the departure of manager Jim Magilton and the arrival of Paul Hart, his short-lived successor. Bradford City’s penalty was imposed last month.
- Football has always been reluctant to embrace drug- testing, partly because of the belief that out-of-competition testing is an unnecessary intrusion into the lives of players. It was only last year that Fifa, world football’s governing body, agreed to adopt the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, accepted by most other sports in 2003- There have been examples of leading players taking performance-enhancing drugs in competition. The most notorious case involves Diego Maradona, the Argentina star, who tested positive at the 1994 World Cup for a cocktail of banned substances. He was suspended for 15 months, which effectively ended his career, although he will return to the World Cup this summer as manager of Argentina.
- In England, the heaviest suspension of a leading player was the eight months imposed on Rio Ferdinand, who failed to take a drugs test in September 2003 and was also fined £50,000.
- In all sports, urine and/or blood samples are collected by sampling officers. Until the beginning of 2010, in Britain these were under the direction of UK Sport, a quango financed with taxpayers’ money. Now this task has been taken on by UK Anti-Doping. It declined to comment on the 96 missed tests. In football, officials arrive unannounced at training grounds, although clubs have to declare where and when training is taking place. There is provision for the FA to target a player if this has been requested by his club or the Professional Footballers’ Association. This has been done if it is suspected players have been taking recreational or performance-enhancing substances.
- Three British competitors in other sports missed tests because they were not where they told UK Sport they would be.
- They were judo fighter Peter Cousins, triathlete Tim Don and, most notably, Christine Ohuruogu, who later won the Olympic 400m title. All received suspensions, although they were allowed to return to Olympic competition and all took part in the 2008 Games in Beijing. The Times


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