Keeping football clean, one ban at a time.

7 07 2009

One question that I am consistently asked by my American, non-football fan friends (yes I have them), is about the banned drug (or steroid) policy for football.  You have to understand that performance enhancing drug use runs wild in American sports.  Each sport has it’s own rules for dealing with the offenders.  Sadly, each sporting association trying to protect the players (or their revenue streams) over the integrity of the sport.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into that debate just yet, instead I would like to focus on how football looks to protect the game, and not the player.

On Tuesday, Sheffield United confirmed that goalkeeper, Patrick Kenny, was suspended for testing positive for a banned drug.  The player isn’t important to this argument, but rather the case itself.  Kenny tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine (that’s right, the weight loss drug) from a sample collected following a promotional playoff match.  Ephedrine is commonly used as a stimulant, appetite suppressant, concentration aid, or decongestant, and can be found in common cold medicines.  Not exactly, human growth hormone, and in fact, is a drug that is not even illegal in the United States, however, it is on the banned substance list provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency.  This requires the Football Association (FA) to take action.  Once the sample was confirmed, the club immediately suspended the player.

This should be a benchmark for how to deal with a drug problem.

Kenny faces a disciplinary hearing where he could face up to a two year suspension.  Not one-fourth of the season, not half of the season, but two years for a first offense.  Here is a summary of the rules from UEFA (Europe’s football governing body):

Article 12bis  – Presence, use or possession of a prohibited substance or use of a prohibited method;

1. Any doping offense arising from a positive test for any prohibited substance or method as defined on the Prohibited List published by WADA shall incur the following sanctions:

a) two-year suspension for a first offense;
b) suspension for an indefinite period for a second offense.

2. Where the player can establish that he did not intend to enhance his performance, a doping offense arising from a positive test for a “specified” substance or method as defined on the Prohibited List published by WADA shall incur the following sanctions:

a) minimum of a warning and a maximum of a one-year suspension for a first offense;
b) two-year suspension for a second offense;
c) suspension for an indefinite period for a third offense.

Perhaps Kenny was feeling a little fat that day, needed a breathing aid, or some extra concentration, whatever the case may be, it could cost him two years of his career.  This ban could essentially force  a premature end to one’s career.  Now that is drug control.

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