Roman Bednar, West Bromwich Albion's Czech international striker, was suspended by the club shortly before yesterday's match against Liverpool pending an internal investigation into allegations in a tabloid newspaper that he bought cocaine and cannabis from a drug dealer.
Bednar, 26, was reported to have purchased the drugs for £420 nine days ago, shortly after being an unused substitute in Albion's victory over Wigan Athletic. It was claimed that he paid the money to a supplier who waited in a Mercedes car outside his home in Sutton Coldfield.
When confronted with the photographic evidence of the purported deal, Bednar was quoted as having told the reporter he had undergone three drug tests in a year and was "clean". The drugs were not for his own use, he insisted.
Tony Mowbray, the Albion manager, was asked whether the story had affected his players' performance. "I don't think so, though I did have a word with them when they came in this morning because that was the main talking point. But I think it's not for talking about today. The club have taken action until they can get to the bottom of it. Roman will be suspended until we can find out all the details. I feel that's all we should say at the moment."
The former Heart of Midlothian player, who was signed by Mowbray for £2.3m following a successful loan spell at the Hawthorns, scored 17 goals during the club's promotion campaign last season. This season Bednar has only six goals and has started in only three FA Cup matches since his last Premier League start, against Tottenham Hotspur on 28 December.
Bednar has so far made one appearance for the Czech Republic, in a 3-1 defeat to Serbia in August 2006.Reuse content