Thursday 22 February 2018

Alexis Sanchez may still face action over 'missed' drugs test despite Arsene Wenger admitting Arsenal are to blame

Arsene Wenger says the day of Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to Manchester United was a “special event” and Arsenal have “nothing to hide” following reports the Chilean inadvertently missed a doping test during the process.
Arsene Wenger says the day of Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to Manchester United was a “special event” and Arsenal have “nothing to hide” following reports the Chilean inadvertently missed a doping test during the process.

Ben Rumsby

Alexis Sanchez could still face action over a “missed” drugs test, despite Arsene Wenger on Friday morning admitting Arsenal were to blame for an investigation into his whereabouts during his move to Manchester United.

Sanchez’s former club were on Friday night waiting to learn whether they would be issued with a strike for breaching Football Association’s rules over the forward’s absence during a visit by doping control officers on Monday, while he was sealing his switch to Old Trafford.

The player, who has been asked for his observations about the administrative blunder, could also face a strike if he is found, separately, to have transgressed.

With both him and Arsenal understood to have no previous “missed tests” against their names, any strike would leave each of them two further such slip-ups in the next 12 months from being punished, which would include a minimum one-year ban for the 29-year-old.

Under FA rules, clubs must inform the governing body in advance if they know one of their players will not be present at training, with players separately responsible for telling it where they will be for one hour of that day so drugs testers can locate them.

United did not respond to requests for comment on Friday – and Sanchez’s agent could not be reached for comment – on whether the player did, indeed, fail to provide the FA with a location at which he could be tested on Monday.

Arsenal also declined to comment on whether it was their policy to remind their players to do so after Wenger admitted the controversy had been the fault of his own club, who had been deep in negotiations that day over the swap deal involving Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“On Monday, there was a lot going on,” he said. “It was a special day for Alexis, because you have to do paperwork, you have to travel.

“Is he still our player on Monday or not? You don’t know, with negotiations going on.

“I think it’s a special event for him to miss a drugs test because he was certainly busy somewhere else with his agent. Overall, he has been tested so many times here that it’s no worry for me that he has any doping problem. It’s just a bad day for him to be tested.

“On the administration side, it would certainly still be our responsibility because on the day, he had not moved. Maybe it will be down to us, to our responsibility.”

Disclosing details of a similar issue with Cesc Fabregas when the midfielder was still at Arsenal, Wenger insisted Sanchex and the club had “nothing to hide”.

“I’m quite relaxed because we have nothing to hide here. We always try our best to cooperate with doping control,” he said.

“I pushed always for football to do more against doping, so I don’t see why we should not cooperate. We try our best, but this was a special day.

“The most important is the intentions are right. The intention of Alexis was certainly not to hide, nor was our intention to hide anything. We have nothing to hide.”

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