The Football Association have defended their anti-doping rules after Channel 4's Dispatches programme revealed names of several players who have failed drugs tests.
It is the FA's policy to keep private the names of players who fail tests for social drugs out of competition, although punishments of up to six months for first-time offenders can be handed out. The FA want players to be allowed privacy to seek help for their problems, where required, and stress there is no requirement on them to identify those who have failed tests for recreational drugs away from game time.
Anyone who fails a test for a performance-enhancing drug is named and, in a statement, the FA said: "The FA operates a comprehensive anti-doping programme which is the largest of any sport in the UK. The FA prohibits all the doping offences listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency code and applies all the sanctions laid down in the code for those offences."
Players with Premier League experience, who are no longer active in the top flight, were named in the Dispatches programme as having tested positive for cocaine.
The FA stress they are working to eliminate illegal substances of all types, and underlined that players who test positive for social drugs will be punished, even if their names are not disclosed.
The FA statement continued: "In addition, the FA, supported by all the football stakeholders, recognise the issues that social drugs may cause and choose to go beyond the WADA Code by proactively testing all samples for social drugs, irrespective of whether the tests are conducted in or out of competition.
"Football is one of the only sports in the UK that ban social drugs at all times, and were the first to do so.
"Any player who tests positive for a social drug out of competition is charged and subject to a sanction which ordinarily includes a suspension from all football activity for a period of up to six months for a first time offence.
"They are also subject to target testing for a period of two years. The FA do not report the name of the player as this offence is not a WADA Code offence and privacy allows for the player to undergo any necessary rehabilitation and counselling.
"All England representative teams are subject to UEFA and FIFA regulations whilst Premier and Football League clubs and players are subject to strict FA whereabouts regulations. Players are drug tested on a no-advance notice basis. Testing can take place at matches, training grounds, players' home addresses and locations abroad."
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