The F.A. Council has rubber stamped new anti-drug regulations which will come into force from January 2007. Under the new rules there will be a minimum two-year ban for players testing positive for prohibited substances on the proscribed list. A second offence will invoke a life ban.
Periods of suspension may be reduced if the player can show that there was no fault or significant fault on their part - for example they had consumed a legitimate substance that had been contaminated - but the onus will be on the player to provide concrete evidence, and the F.A. states such circumstances are likely to be exceptional.
In addition, sanctions may also be reduced in the case of specified substances as defined on the list which are banned but appear in legal medical products, such as ephedrine, or are recreational rather than performance enhancing, for example cannabis, and for which players may turn up a positive test because of their general availability. However again the onus is on the player to show that the substance was not intended to aid sporting performance or was ingested as the by-product of someone else's behaviour. Does the cynic in us already see a partner/mates suddenly confessing to a weed habit every time a player tests positive for cannabis?
The F.A. carried out 1,700 random drug tests in the 2005-06 season.
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