Kolo Touré could be banned for two years from football even if the defender, yesterday suspended indefinitely by Manchester City, can prove he inadvertently tested positive for a “specified substance”.
City and the Football Association both confirmed last night that an ‘A’ sample provided by Touré had proved positive. The player can now opt to have his ‘B’ sample, taken in the same drugs test, analysed in a bid to prove his innocence.
“He has been suspended from participating in all first team and non-first team matches pending the outcome of the legal process,” read a statement on City’s website.
The FA stated “that a player has been provisionally suspended from playing pending investigation, having tested positive for the use of a prohibited substance.” It is the first positive test under the FA’s auspices since an unnamed player was banned after testing positive for cocaine in January last year.
City were informed of the results of the test late on Wednesday afternoon and duly withdrew the player from Roberto Mancini’s squad for the rearranged FA Cup fifth-round tie with Aston Villa. The failed test automatically triggered the suspension, with City left with no option but to exclude him from their plans until the conclusion of proceedings.
How long Touré is banned for, should he be found guilty, will depend on the substance involved, the explanation for how it was in his body and any mitigating circumstances.
According to the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency, “specified substances” are those that are “more susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation.” Those substances on the list can be used to enhance performance but can also be found in legitimate therapies, such as cold cures and dietary supplements. Most common recreational drugs would not fall into the same category.
Even if Touré can prove to the FA that he only ingested a prohibited substance unknowingly, though, his punishment according to Wada could still be as draconian as a two-year ban.
The code states: “If the athlete can prove that he or she did not intend to enhance performance by using them to the satisfaction of the results management authority, the sanction under the World Anti-Doping code can go from a warning to a two-year ban.” The most recent precedent for cases of this type is the former Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, now with QPR, who was banned for nine months in September 2009 after testing positive for ephedrine, a prohibited substance found in cold remedies.
The FA chose not to punish Kenny to the full extent of its powers after admitting that he had not deliberately sought to enhance performance when taking an over-the-counter cold remedy without consulting United’s medical team.
The Hamilton midfielder Simon Mensing was banned for just a month after testing positive for another specified substance, methylhexaneamine, in December. The Englishman explained that he had taken a contaminated dietary supplement and provided credible evidence to support his case. The Scottish Football Association took that information into account when sentencing him to a rare short ban.
UK Anti-Doping warned athletes last November to be vigilant about the possible presence of banned substances in dietary supplements that are available on the high street.
Though neither Manchester City nor the FA were last night prepared to estimate a timescale for the case, it is likely that the club will be without Touré for far longer than the five games Mensing missed north of the border while the £14?million defender’s case is worked out. It is unlikely that the Ivorian will play again this season.
That will come as a major blow to Mancini, who has been at pains to point out recently how stretched his squad is with City attempting to challenge for both the FA Cup and the Europa League as well as securing a top-four berth in the Premier League.
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