Monday 20 January 2020

Doctor who worked at City and Bury faces doping charge

Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ben Rumsby

A doctor who has worked for Manchester City and Bury is facing the possibility of a four-year ban from sport after being charged with a doping violation.

Dr Andrew Johnson, who has worked in the tunnel at the Etihad Stadium on match days and for City's academy, has been accused of providing "fraudulent information" in respect of a medical exemption for a player to use a banned substance - thought to be testosterone.

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The charge, issued by the Football Association in October, relates to Johnson's role at Bury in December last year. His association with City, which the club have suspended pending the outcome of his case, dates back at least eight years.

The GP, a partner of 20 years at the Marple Cottage Surgery in Stockport, stands accused under FA Rule E25 of having "tampered with doping control in that he provided fraudulent information to an anti-doping organisation, namely the FA and/or UK Anti-Doping in respect of an application for a TUE [therapeutic use exemption] dated Dec 1, 2018 on behalf of a player".

The FA described Johnson as an ex-club doctor of Bury, who were thrown out of the English Football League in August over their financial crisis.

The TUE in question is said to be for testosterone, a drug that promotes muscle mass, helps control weight and increases energy. Its use is banned in sport unless prescribed for a valid clinical reason in the opinion of three independent experts.

Johnson did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. His Marple Cottage biography describes the father of two as "having played competitive sport all his life", and of having "a major interest in musculoskeletal (bone and joints) medicine, from sport injuries and prevention of these to arthritis".

The FA and Ukad declined to comment on Johnson's charge, while City were also silent, including on if they had subsequently checked for any possible anomalies in his work for them.

The club are no strangers to anti-doping sagas, having been forced to omit Riyad Mahrez from their Community Shield squad in August over fears he may have been given medication containing a banned substance.

Pep Guardiola, the City manager, revealed Mahrez missed their win over Liverpool because club doctors were uncertain if medicine ingested in relation to a sinus issue would contravene the rules.

Guardiola's admission led to Ukad officers turning up to test Mahrez, who passed and started City's opening Premier League win at West Ham United.

Mahrez had a private procedure on his nose and it was the medication administered in relation to that which raised concerns.

City would not say what substance was taken, or if Mahrez was still taking it, because of patient confidentiality.

The club was punished in the early months of Guardiola's reign for breaching anti-doping rules three times in less than five months - including for a first-team player missing a drugs test.

The Premier League champions were fined £35,000 in February 2017 after testers were unable to obtain samples from reserve players the previous December after six of them were given the day off without the FA being informed.

The breach of what is the governing body's three-strikes rule occurred despite the club being issued with a written warning three weeks beforehand after a first-team player missed a drugs test because the hotel address provided was no longer correct.


The first strike had occurred shortly after Guardiola's arrival when City failed to inform the FA of an extra first-team training session.

Clubs are required to provide accurate details of training sessions and player whereabouts so they are available for testing at all times.

If teams fail to provide this information - or testers are unable to find the players they are looking for - three times in a rolling 12-month period then they are deemed to have breached the rules.

City informed the FA that the two breaches relating to training sessions were "administrative errors" arising from the club's new management team under Guardiola being unfamiliar with the processing system.

An independent regulatory commission hearing was critical of the club's failure to meet their obligations and heed warnings. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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