Top-flight player treated for cocaine

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The Independent Football

A Premier League player who recently attended a London clinic for drug problems was urged to do so because of his club's fears over his alleged cocaine use and not because he had failed a drugs test. The Independent has learnt that two professional players are coming to the end of secret bans, of three months and five months, after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine, earlier this season.

Both players are attached to Football League clubs and while the "troubled" Premier League player's club are concerned he might fail a drugs test, he has not done so yet. At this stage the club has no plans to "shop" the player and ask for the drug testers to target him. That remains an option if he does not modify his behaviour.

There is a precedent for a club to call in the drug testers. Chelsea requested that Adrian Mutu be targeted for testing in 2004. He subsequently tested positive for cocaine and was sacked. Mutu was later ordered to pay Chelsea £14m in compensation, partly to repay their original outlay on him.

Positive tests for recreational drugs have increased in English football this season. The bans for cocaine were both ratified in September, while in October the Football Association banned another player for four months for marijuana use. Another player was warned and reprimanded in November for marijuana use, as was a player in August. All three play below the Premier League.

In the whole of 2007-08, there were just two drug "findings" in English football related to recreational substances. One player received a formal warning for marijuana use, while a second was banned for two years for refusing a drug test knowing that he would fail it. The latter player's name was guarded more tightly than most over fears he could be a suicide risk if exposed.