Mutu faces ban after drug test

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The Independent Online

Adrian Mutu could receive a four-year suspension that would effectively end his career after testing positive for a banned substance for the second time.

The Fiorentina striker, who was sacked by Chelsea for using cocaine six years ago, was tested after scoring against Bari in Serie A on 10 January and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), the country's anti-doping authority, yesterday announced that traces of sibutramine, an appetite suppressor, had been discovered in his A sample. Mutu has seven days to ask for his B sample to be tested. Last night he was described by his agent, Victor Becali, as "worried but optimistic."

The Romanian was informed of the result by club officials during training in Florence yesterday morning. CONI has a reputation for taking a harsh line on failed tests, whatever the circumstances, and Mutu can expect the authorities to pursue the maximum ban. Even were they to decide on a lenient approach the 31-year-old is still likely to be suspended for one-and-a-half to two years. Sibutramine is an anti-obesity drug which only this month has been banned in Britain over fears that it increases the risk of heart-attacks and strokes.

This latest positive test comes at a time when Mutu was recapturing the form that prompted Chelsea to pay Parma £15.8m in 2003. He has scored 11 times in all this season and earlier this month Becali claimed that Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, "strongly wanted" to sign him.

Mutu is continuing to fight last year's upholding of Fifa's ruling by the Court of Arbitration in Sport that he must pay Chelsea £15m in compensation.

Having arrived at Stamford Bridge among the first wave of Roman Abramovich's largesse in 2003, Mutu was dismissed by the club having played only 30 games and scored 10 goals. He served a seven-month ban before joining Fabio Capello's Juventus. Chelsea first sued him for breach of contract over the drug charge following his €8m move to Fiorentina four years ago.

Mutu, who is reported to earn €2m a year, appealed CAS's ruling to the Swiss federal court with a decision expected imminently. "I don't have that sort of money," he said recently.

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