Football stars face tougher drug testing

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The Independent Football

England football players and other Premier League stars face a raft of extra drug tests under a new crackdown being planned by the game's authorities, it was reported today.

According to The Sun, 30 of the top-flight league's players will be checked five times a year in addition to existing post-match tests.

The players will also be forced to provide details of their whereabouts for one hour every day, including end-of-season holidays.

The moves are part of efforts by sporting chiefs to bring football's anti-drugs controls and procedures more in line with other sports like athletics and cycling.

UK Sport and Football Association (FA) officials will meet in the next couple of months to draw up the players' register, according to the report.

Andy Parkinson, who is UK Sport's head of operations for a drug-free sport, said he was not setting out to make life difficult for footballers, but was trying to "protect their sport".

He told the paper: "Athletics and cycling have been tainted in a big way by anti-doping. The last thing we want is for football to be in that position where it doesn't focus enough - doesn't put controls in place - and suddenly finds itself a sport with a fantastic profile in a crisis."

Mr Parkinson added: "The identity of the players on the list will be decided by UK Sport and the FA.

"We'll take into account behaviour of athletes in the past, long-term injuries where maybe they disappeared to Eastern Europe for six months to get an injury sorted - or if they have had a doping violation."

Anti-drug testers currently pick two players at random for a urine sample after every match.

Among those punished for drug offences in the past are former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who was sacked by the club and awarded a nine-month ban in 2003 after testing positive for cocaine.

Another Chelsea player, Adrian Mutu was also suspended by the FA for seven months in 2004 after failing a drugs test.