Panel criticises Manchester City over anti-doping rule breaches

24 March 2017 12:08

Manchester City broke the Football Association's anti-doping regulations three times in less than five months last year and failed to heed a written warning sent three weeks before the final breach.

City were charged with breaking the FA's 'whereabouts' rules in January and a three-man panel gave the club a £35,000 fine in February and the written reasons for the sanction were published this week.

Under anti-doping regulation 14D, clubs must provide the FA with accurate information about training sessions and players' addresses so doping control officers can find them for no-notice drugs tests. If clubs 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 rule.

So far this season, City, Fleetwood and Bournemouth have been charged for doing so, with the latter still waiting for their sanction.

City's 'three strikes' were:

  • Failing to inform the FA of an extra first-team training session on July 12, 2016
  • A first-team player missing a test on September 1 of last year because the hotel address provided was no longer correct
  • Anti-doping officials being unable to test reserve players on December 7 because six of them had been given the day off without the FA being informed

The final breach occurred despite the FA writing to City on November 14 to remind them clubs must notify the governing body if five or more players in a particular squad are given a day off from a scheduled session. They were also warned in writing after the second strike in September.

City told the FA the two training-session breaches were " administrative errors" related to the club's new management team under Pep Guardiola being unfamiliar with the system.

The Premier League club said they believed they had grounds to challenge the hotel mix-up but the FA rejected this and City did not contest the point. That acceptance of guilt was welcomed by the panel and resulted in a smaller fine than it was "minded to impose having noted all the other applicable considerations".

But the panel was critical of City's failure to meet their obligations and heed warnings.

"It is no less concerning that in this case, despite the club being made aware of their breaches on two previous occasions (and) the resources available to the club, they failed to deal with these and implement a system to correct this," it said.

The belief that football is not doing enough to combat the threat of doping is shared by leading athletics coach Toni Minichiello.

In an interview with The Sun, the man who coached Jessica Ennis-Hill to heptathlon glory said: "If sports sign up to the World Anti-Doping Agency code then the rules should be uniform across all of them. That's the huge concern.

"There is the issue of how few tests football does - it's poor. The system should be uniform to the point that everyone is tested a prerequisite amount of times.

"Then there's the issue of whereabouts, not being able to give a home address, not being tested in the close season. That doesn't happen in athletics or other sports. That's what surprises me. Why isn't it the same?

"If the FA is really trying and saying it's the benchmark, then fine. But nobody should pull on an England shirt unless they can prove they have been tested at least twice in the run-up to a game. Not after they have played, not at a training camp.

"If we're a nation of sport that prides itself on being clean they should step it up a bit more."

Source: PA