Football: Test reveals Charlton youth's `drug cocktail'

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Football is again having to come to terms with the problem of recreational drug use after Jay Notley, of Charlton Athletic, tested positive for a cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy.

The 18-year-old midfield player has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association and suspended immediately pending his appearance before a disciplinary commission.

Notley, a first-year professional, is the first player to provide a positive sample in around 300 tests conducted already this season, a sign that the authorities are winning the war against drugs.

However, the results of the doping control unit's visit to the London club's training ground on 4 November, two days after he returned from a month on loan with the Icis Premier League club Dagenham and Redbridge will have serious results for the youngster.

Both Ecstasy and cocaine are Class A substances and the latter is regarded as a performance enhancer. The last player caught taking cocaine, Roger Stanislaus of Leyton Orient, was banned from football for a year and sacked by his club.

Notley is the third Charlton player caught by the random tests. Teenagers Dean Chandler and Lee Bowyer, who is now an England Under-21 player with Leeds, were given counselling when they were among the first detected, although their offence was cannabis use.

A fourth Charlton player, Craig Sloan, has confessed in the tabloid press on several occasions to drug use, but was never charged by the FA.

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, said yesterday: "We are very disappointed. No other football club has worked as hard as we have. After the Lee Bowyer situation we have worked very closely with the FA and the police.

"We have had drug awareness talks here for everyone and we have been doing in-house drug testing. The players at this football club know they are going to be tested. If someone is going to take drugs after all the information we have given out, they only have themselves to blame. I knew about this three weeks ago. The player has now got to put his mind on rehabilitation.

"We have been very successful with our youngsters and this comes as a blow for us. Other football clubs have got the same problem. It is perhaps no coincidence the players caught here are all 17-year-old players. Perhaps it is a sign of the times.

"Jay has not featured in the first team and barely played for the reserves here. He has lost his way on the field lately as well as off it. Perhaps that is connected, I don't know. It is going to be a tough couple of months for him.

"I hope and wish that he does the rehab and comes out of it successfully. The stuff he has been taking is not conducive to healthy living and I hope he sorts himself out. Essentially, if people want to take drugs, though, they can do. What can you do to stop them?"

An FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "It is the first time we have come across a cocktail of drugs like this, so it is obviously a serious matter." However, he insisted football was winning the fight to clean up the game. "Two seasons ago, there were 12 positive results from 272 tests. Last season, there were seven from the same number of tests.

"This season we have stepped up our testing to around 500 and this is the first positive result from around 300 already carried out, which is encouraging. But we cannot afford to be complacent.

"Our aim is to focus on the professionals and in particular the younger players, who are the most likely to be at risk from drugs."