City face charges for breaking FA anti-doping rules
Manchester City faced embarrassment yesterday when the club were charged by the English Football Association over their repeated failure to inform anti-doping authorities of the whereabouts of their first team and development squads, a requirement for random testing to be effective.
The club face a fine over the charge issued under FA Regulation 14(d) and relating to the "whereabouts" rule which dictates that the FA must be told daily when the first team, under-21s, and under-18s squads are scheduled to be training.
If a player is not training, or leaves a session before he is scheduled to do so, anti-doping authorities must be given a one-hour time frame that same day when the club can say for sure where a player will be.
Clubs are obliged under the rules to update any change to the schedule so that testers and players are in the right place, with the whereabouts regulations considered a key part of the integrity of the testing system.
A player who is not in training, or leaves a session early, must make himself available for one hour in that day between 6am and 11pm and give the anti-doping authorities two hours' grace from the time he informs them of his absence from training to the beginning of his one-hour window.
Tests are carried out by UK Anti-Doping on behalf of the FA on all players on professional contracts at clubs. Under the FA regulations there is a three-strikes policy, under which a third violation of the whereabouts procedure triggers an FA charge, and it can be incurred across all levels of professional players, not just the senior squad. City have fallen foul of the three-strikes rule and they have until next Thursday to either accept the FA charge or contest it.
The punishment is likely to be a fine. The decision on their guilt, if they deny the charge, and what punishment they receive will be made by an independent regulatory commission. It looks likely the club will accept the charge.
The FA is signed up to the World Anti-Doping Authority code but administers its own rules.
The governing body has embarked on an education process for players, using former England international Graeme Le Saux to explain to young footballers in particular the importance of understanding anti-doping regulations.
Players are subject to random blood and urine tests. The refusal to take a test is considered the equivalent of a failed test and can result in a two-year ban from football.
In City's case, the contraventions are not thought to relate to a single player but are an administrative failing across the board by the club to update testers on whereabouts and changes to training schedules.
The highest profile missed drugs test of the modern era was when Rio Ferdinand failed to attend a drugs test he had already been informed of, having been approached by testers at the Manchester United training ground in 2003.
The FA gave him an eight-month ban.
City midfielder Samir Nasri, who is playing on loan at Sevilla this season, is already facing the prospect of a four-year ban over his visit to an intravenous therapy clinic last month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)