Saturday 24 August 2019

Mahrez may miss league opener due to concerns over Algeria medicine

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola chats with Riyad Mahrez ahead of Sunday's Community Shield clash with Liverpool. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola chats with Riyad Mahrez ahead of Sunday's Community Shield clash with Liverpool. Photo: Reuters/John Sibley

Tom Morgan and Peter Allen

Riyad Mahrez could miss the first game of the Premier League season as Manchester City await clearance from doctors over the medical treatment he was given in Algeria.

The forward - who returned to the UK last week after captaining Algeria to the Africa Cup of Nations title - was absent from Sunday's Community Shield win over Liverpool at Wembley amid fears he could fail a drug test.

City insisted last night there was "no issue" around the forward and the English Football Association has accepted manager Pep Guardiola's explanation that Mahrez's omission was precautionary after he was given an unspecified medicine, believed to be sinus-related.

However, a former official at the UK Anti-Doping Agency (Ukad), speaking on condition of anonymity, said such treatments could remain in the system for more than a week.

Treatments "Whether he can play (against West Ham) or not will depend on exactly when it was administered and what it was," the source said.

Under World Anti- Doping Agency rules, a number of sinus and eye treatments can only be taken by athletes outside of competition.

Speaking after City beat Liverpool 5-4 on penalties at Wembley, Guardiola said Mahrez had not featured because "doctors did not have exactly the medicine" he had taken in Algeria.

"Hopefully he will be back next game against West Ham and in the future everything will be normal," the manager added.

A spokesman for City was not willing to discuss Mahrez's medical details, but added: "It's not an issue."

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mahrez, who scored three goals in seven matches in Egypt, completing a trophy-laden summer after City won the treble.

Having led Algeria to their first Africa Cup of Nations title since 1990, he compared the success to his against-the-odds title triumph with Leicester City.

"There are moments like that in football, you can't even explain," Mahrez told French daily sports paper 'L'Équipe'. "It was like when we won the Premier League title with Leicester. We had the feeling that nobody could stop us. At the 2019 Afcon, it was the same feeling. We had support from every angle. We had a great team and a great coach."

The FA is happy that Mahrez has not broken any rules, and he had received medical treatment "outside competition".

Guardiola had said: "Riyad called me just after being (crowned) champion with Algeria and said, 'I want to come back in 10 days, I want to play against Liverpool'.

"I said, 'You are more than welcome, it's perfect you come'. But we don't have what he took. That's why, for doping control, today was a risk because the doctors didn't have it. That's why he wasn't in the squad to play some minutes."

A Ukad spokeswoman said the organisation "operates a risk-based, intelligence-led" programme, but refused to confirm whether Mahrez would be tested this week.

"To maintain the integrity of the process, our doping control programme is carried out on a 'no advance warning' basis," she said.

"We are therefore unable to provide comment on any plans we may or may not have to conduct testing."

Algeria's football federation was not immediately available for comment.

Telegraph.co.uk

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport