Football has spent three years fighting drug-test plan
Published 18:29 13/09/11 By MirrorFootball
A stalemate over the drug testing of England's top players has still to be resolved - more than THREE YEARS after the Football Association started talks with testing authorities.
UK Anti-Doping are pushing for a pool of 30 elite players, who would be subject to up to five tests a year - on top of those carried out after matches.
The elite pool would be made up of most of the England squad, plus leading Under-21 and women players, who would have to provide detailed information about their daily whereabouts.
UK Anti-Doping want an independent body to decide sanctions for any of those players in the pool who fail or miss tests, while the FA want to keep control of any disciplinary measures.
There is also opposition from the Professional Footballers' Association, who say there could be an unnecessary invasion of privacy of superstar players when they are at home and on holiday.
An FA spokesman confirmed: "We are still in discussions with UK Anti-Doping about a national registered testing pool [NRTP]."
UK Anti-Doping added in a statement: "Not all sports warrant an NRTP. However with respect to football we have been in discussion with the FA for some time about the composition of a national registered testing pool."
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said he accepted players who had been injured for long periods of time, or who had failed tests before, should be subject to increased scrutiny from testers but that it was unnecessary for England's top players.
Taylor told Press Association Sport: "They seem to be targeting the top players but I think there is ample opportunity throughout the year for them to be tested on match days or at training without it having to be at home or on holiday. That's an unnecessary invasion of privacy.
"Last January one player told us he had been tested 15 times by FIFA, UEFA and the FA."
The scale of drug use in English football appears to be low. Only one case has been registered on UK Anti-Doping's website for rule violations since the end of January 2010 - that of Manchester City's Kolo Toure who was banned for six months earlier this year after testing positive for a diuretic.
The FA say no other cases have been concluded within that time.
Taylor backed the FA's stance in saying that players who test positive for recreational drugs out of competition should remain anonymous.
"We are trying to get these lads back on track via rehabilitation and there are very few sports that actually do test for social drugs out of competition," said Taylor. "There is no obligation for us to do so."
A Channel 4 Dispatches programme revealed there had been 240 incomplete tests in football over the last three years.
The FA said that related to 60 occasions when testers arrived at a training ground planning to test four players - at either first team, reserve or youth team level - only to find the club were training elsewhere.
Clubs are supposed to notify the FA of any changes to training plans and face fines if they fail to do so three times in two years.