Saturday 21 September 2019

Why did Alexis Sanchez 'miss' drugs test, can Arsenal be punished and how serious is the case?

Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez
Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez

Ben Rumsby

Everything you need to know about Alexis Sanchez's missed drugs test.

What happened to make Alexis Sanchez “miss” a drugs test?

Drugs testers turned up for a no-notice, out-of-competition sample collection during an Arsenal training session on Monday while Sanchez was in the north-west completing his move to Manchester United. The Football Association was notified of Sanchez’s absence, although Arsenal sources have suggested he was not actually scheduled to be tested that day.

So he did not “miss a test”?

Under the Football Association’s anti-doping regulations, players must notify it when they are not going to be at training or if they plan to leave early or arrive late. They must then provide a location where they will be available for testing during a one-hour window that same day. Failure to do so risks being deemed a “missed test”. Three missed tests in a 12-month period is an anti-doping rule violation punishable with a ban of at least one year.

Why could Arsenal be punished?

Because clubs are also required to inform the FA when a player will be absent from training, something Arsene Wenger appeared to admit that the club failed to do while they were deep in negotiations over the swap deal involving Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Manchester City and Bournemouth were both fined £35,000 last season for three “club whereabouts” breaches (those not necessarily involving the same players each time) inside 12 months. The rule is in place so players can be located for testing when required.

Didn’t Rio Ferdinand get banned for eight months for the missing a drugs test?

Ferdinand was banned for a more serious rule breach. His missed test was as the result of him leaving Manchester United’s training ground after being informed he was required to provide a sample, which is an anti-doping rule violation. He said he had simply forgot about the test.

How serious is the Sanchez case?

On the face of it, any missed test looks to have been the result of an embarrassing cock-up by Arsenal. Sources say neither they nor Sanchez have any previous strikes against their names. But both player and club will now have to be ultra-careful to avoid a second strike this year, which would put them just one slip-up from a possible sanction.

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