Heroin shock in Premier League

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The Independent Online
A FOOTBALLER with a Premiership club has admitted he suffers from a "serious heroin addiction" after testing positive for the class A drug.

In the first recorded case of a British footballer admitting he is a heroin addict, the youth trainee - who cannot be named because he is only 17 - has been suspended indefinitely. He is now receiving treatment and counselling.

A second player, the Reading midfielder Byron Glasgow, has had his contract terminated after testing positive for cocaine and cannabis. Glasgow, 20, a product of Arsenal's youth training scheme, is expected to appear before a Football Association disciplinary committee within the next week. He has been charged with misconduct and will almost certainly face a lengthy suspension.

The FA's head of medicine, Alan Hodson, yesterday announced the results of its season-long testing campaign, in which 544 random tests were carried out. He said of the suspended trainee: "We are talking about a very serious heroin problem in this case ... the problem would seem to be long term. When informed the club were very shocked but, as is so often the case, they were not surprised when they looked at his recent behavioural and injury record."

The FA has carried out more than 2,000 tests in the past five years. In total there have been just 29 positive results. Mr Hodson said: "We cannot be complacent but the trend here shows a decreasing amount of positive samples. In 1995 we carried out 272 tests and had 12 positive results. We've doubled that number and yet have only found two positive cases.

"In all that time this is the first case of a player admitting a heroin addiction. The player will receive help from the FA, his club and the Professional Footballers' Association but he faces an uphill task."

The FA intends to double the number of random drugs tests next season. A pounds 250,000 scheme, administered by the UK Sports Council's doping unit, will make 1,000 random checks, a quarter of which will on Premier League players.

"In five years I am pleased to say we haven't had a single case of performance- enhancing drugs," Mr Hodson said. "Our problem seems to be with social drugs which are rife in society anyway."

Reading, a Second Division club, said Glasgow's contract had been terminated "with great regret. We cannot condone drug-taking in any way, shape or form on or off the field. However we have contributed towards Byron's rehabilitation programme and wish him a full recovery."