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Arijan Ademi got four years ban for failing a drugs test. So what will Sakho get?

By Tony Attwood

You’ll recall that Dinamo Zagreb’s Arijan Ademi failed a drug test after playing in the team that beat Arsenal in the Champions League group stage.   Despite the fact that he played the full game nothing was done to the club that employs him and nothing was done about the result.  Dinamo Zagreb later announced that the Ademi was given a four-year ban from football by Uefa.  Clubs, it seems, are not responsible for their players’ actions.  (Unless it’s Arsenal when a two point deduction for a bit of argy-bargy is not unknown).

There have long been worries about drugs testing in football and comments have abounded to suggest that clubs routinely arrange for players to be “injured” when the Independent Sampling Officers turn up for routine tests.  Thus the only way players get caught is by being tested after a game – and that only happens very rarely.

Certainly compared to other sports in the UK, footballers are rarely tested.  But action can occasionally be taken against the individuals – as with Rio Ferdinand who missed a drugs test in September 2003 and was banned for eight months.  Kolo Toure got a six-month ban from all football for failing a drugs test.

And yet now, with a Liverpool! player being caught out there is talk of “missing the rest of the season” rather than the four years.  Not much of a surprise though – that is how it goes.

Meanwhile the World Anti-Doping Agency’s president, John Fahey, and director-general, David Howman, have both said that football’s testing procedures are not rigorous enough, and that Premier League players are not tested often enough.  They also note that some “Team sports players can go their entire career without being tested once.”

Some players are caught however.   Mark Marshall of Barnet received a two-year ban for testing positive for methylhexaneamine.   Tests revealing cannabis however often end up with a one month ban, the players’ identity hidden.

Fifa carries out the drug-testing in international competitions and claims 0.07% of players, tested positive for performance-enhancing anabolic and hormonal drugs.   0.14% tested positive for social drugs.


Meanwhile the culture secretary (the UK government minister responsible for sport), John Whittingdale, has ordered an inquiry into the UK Anti-Doping agency (Ukad) itself, over accusations it failed to respond to doping allegations linked to 150 elite sports people.

The allegations come amid the suggestions that Dr Mark Bonar prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs to Premier League footballers, and that Ukad had not acted on evidence received two years ago.

The claim includes the notion that the doctor had provided “doping services” to unnamed players in various clubs including Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea.    Dr Bonar  already faces a disciplinary hearing for malpractice in the care of the cancer patient

Arsenal’s statement at the time said, “Arsenal Football Club is extremely disappointed by the publication of these false claims which are without foundation. The Sunday Times knows that these allegations are baseless but has preferred to publish regardless. The club takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously and our players are well aware of what is expected. We strictly adhere to all guidelines set by the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

Mr Whittingdale said at the time, ‘There is no room for complacency in the fight against doping and the Government is already looking at whether existing legislation in this area goes far enough. If it becomes clear that stronger criminal sanctions are needed then we will not hesitate to act.’

This is an area that the web site Football is Fixed has been involved in, recently saying, “We were the first media outlet to disclose the use of PESs at Leicester City in our ‘Webb Of Lies’ published on Football is Fixed on February 6th 2016″.  Sadly, that comment leads to a link which when clicked gives us “We, The Arbitrageurs Of The NeoHyperrealities Of Post-Structuralist Football – Exposing Corruption Since 2006 – Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist,” so I am not able to report further on that line of enquiry.

Indeed I am getting a bit concerned about the accuracy of some of FIF’s commentaries as it has also suggested that because of the involvement of one journalist at the Guardian, the paper totally failed to mention that Leicester was one of the clubs implicated in the Bonar allegations.  And yet in an article that is still on the internet on the Guardian’s web site and is headed  Guardian sport and Press Association 

I’m certainly not an apologist for the Guardian, but in my view, if one is going to attack the papers for their approach to football (and if you are a regular reader you will know that is something I do feel is worth doing) one needs to be a little careful about the accusations made.

Recent Posts

Two from the anniversary files

The full list of anniversaries from this day are on the home page and the complete list of 5000 Arsenal anniversaries are published on the Arsenal History Society site.

25 April 1895: Royal Ordnance Factories 0 Woolwich Arsenal 0.  In 1892/3 Arsenal was embroiled in a battle with their ground landlord and his supporters inside the club, which resulted ultimately in Woolwich Arsenal joining the Football League while the landlord and others formed a new club (ROF FC) and joining the Southern League.  They played on grounds opposite each other and this match showed they were at least talking to each other by this date.  Further matches followed.

25 April 2004. Arsenal won the League, at White Hart Lane, for the second time since Tottenham last won the league.  The score was Tottenham 2 Arsenal 2 and this was the 34th league game of the unbeaten season.  Lehmann (having conceded a penalty in the 94th minute) failed to return to the pitch to celebrate afterwards.  Vieira and Pires got the goals.



10 comments to Arijan Ademi got four years ban for failing a drugs test. So what will Sakho get?

  • serge

    It’s unfortunate the Football Is Fixed took that article down as it was damning, especially towards Leicester. There must have been some serious legal intervention because FIF doesn’t usually bottle these sort of situations.

  • norman14

    Let’s not forget that Arsene Wenger brought this up earilier in theseason. The response? The Drug Testers turned up at the next Arsenal game. They made the players (one was Santi?), wait for hours before releasing them. It really is a joke.

    Now a Liverpool player has been caught, and we all know that the FA etc are bending over backwards to assist that particular club gain some of it’s previous glory.

    Unfortunately, as long as the media refuse to investigate high level corruption, the status quo will remain.

    What a pity we didn’t arrange a run on the bookies for a draw yesterday!

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Arsenal look to achieve a 4th position place finish in the table this season if and if, they get at least a draw at the Etihad next weekend. But a win there will surely see Arsenal finish on 3rd in the table. But they’ll need to 1st win their last 2 homes matches of this season against Norwich City and Aston Villa before any of the 2 achievements will happen.

    Even if Arsenal finally finished on 4th, I can accept that because Arsenal can use the 2 Ucl legged knockout qualifying tie as additional pre-season games in addition to the only 2 pre-season friendlies they would have had as pre-seasons in the US without the 2 Emirates Cup friendly games. This could lead to Arsenal not fully prepared for the opening games of next season which Arsenal shouldn’t begin on any faulty start again.

  • bjtgooner

    The move towards some weight reduction drugs is an interesting one. What professional footballer who trains to peak fitness needs weight reduction drugs? – none should.

    But, I am advised by a fitness professional that these drugs have the side effect of (temporarily) increasing stamina – i.e. one could run harder for longer.

    Would this resonate with the performance of any particular club?

  • Gord

    The infant replacement of the septic bladder has put out the message, graft as usual. Liverpool will make their donation in some way, and the only punishment will be a slap on the wrist.

  • Notoverthehill

    Tony, Football is Fixed is a waste of time.

    Too much, as they point out in the timeline, is redacted or removed for some unknown reason.

    As reliable, as the Iraqi chappie?

  • Notoverthehill

    According to XPRO, there were 144 former footballers behind bars and 250 in the young offenders system. BBC interview on 18th August 2014.

    Perhaps Transfermarkt has the ultimate method with Gerard Kinsella, Career break, last club Fleetwood Town, career break since June 25, 2013.

    Thanks to Tony, I would not have thought of a search for ” drugs in =football”!

  • Jojo

    Just curious as to why, Dinamo Zagreb’s Arijan Ademi is the benchmark chosen?
    Have other players been banned in recent times with various degrees of punishment?
    Are these types of cases intended to be a one size fits all; or a case-by-case basis accounting potentially for any number of factors specific to an individual case – including type of substance etc.?

    Just curious

  • Menace

    Come on WADA, time for a blitz. Every player & official in the EPL this weekend. Blood & urine samples. It would clear a lot of inuendo & uncertainty.

    It would probably surprise us all.

  • Jerry

    Sakho seemed to be everywhere when Liverpool! played Everton, and now we know why!

    It would get truly interesting if the clubs that played against him and Liverpool were able to file grievances for the matches he participated in during this time (Dortmund, Bournemouth, and Everton).

    Interesting that it was a UEFA drug test that found it, and not a PL one.

    According to the Telegraph, another case was Jaap Stam testing positive just weeks after his transfer from United to Lazio (4 month suspension).

    Abel Xavier also banned 12 months for failing a drug test at Middlesborough and Kolo Toure at City as mentioned above.

    The Ademi case made the doping position rather clear, a result can be overturned if more than 1 player is found to be guilty, but if you only test 3 players, it’s rather unlikely 2 will be found guilty.