Agent attacks Mutu drugs denial

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Adrian Mutu's professed innocence that he has not taken illegal drugs was undermined yesterday when both his agent, Gheorge Popescu, and his union, the Professional Footballers' Association, confirmed that Chelsea's Romanian international striker had indeed tested positive for a banned substance.

Adrian Mutu's professed innocence that he has not taken illegal drugs was undermined yesterday when both his agent, Gheorge Popescu, and his union, the Professional Footballers' Association, confirmed that Chelsea's Romanian international striker had indeed tested positive for a banned substance.

Chelsea confirmed the positive test to Popescu, who then advised Mutu, 25, not to bother waiting for his back-up sample to be tested before admitting he had done something wrong. According to Popescu, Mutu apparently did not realise the seriousness of his situation. The player could be banned from playing for up to two years if found guilty of a doping offence.

"I told him not to ask for the second sample so as not to prolong his agony," Popescu said. "I told him that almost always the second sample confirms the first sample. He seemed not to understand what I told him. Mutu is destroyed. I told him to assume full responsibility for his actions but he seemed not to understand what it really means."

Uncorroborated reports claim that a recent sample collected by UK Sport from Mutu, contained traces of cocaine, a charge strenuously denied by the player. Yesterday morning, Popescu had said: "[Mutu] only said 'It's not possible' and nothing else." Asked then whether Mutu maintained he was innocent, Popescu had said: "Of course."

Popescu and another of Mutu's advisors, Victor Becali, flew to London yesterday to meet their client, who himself flew back to the capital after a weekend in Italy. The trio were still waiting last night for the result of a test on Mutu's "B" sample to confirm the original findings. Mutu's Chelsea future will not be discussed with the club until after the result is known in the next day or so.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, confirmed that he had spoken to Mutu in the wake of a positive drugs test in recent weeks.

"At the moment, it's all got to be confidential because I don't want people to jump to conclusions," Taylor said. "There needs to be a proper hearing, a second test and then the player's response."

Taylor added that he was "disappointed" about Mutu's positive test for two reasons. "One is that we have had a positive test concerning a footballer, and two that it has got out into the public domain before there has been a hearing with the player."

Informed sources say that Mutu failed his test due to a "recreational" drug rather than performance-enhancing drug. The substance was not specified. The player will not officially be deemed guilty of any doping violation until his "B" sample has been analysed. It is extremely rare, however, for a back-up sample to contradict the original finding.

Mutu faces being formally charged with a doping offence by the Football Association, and a suspension of between six months and two years. With the FA keen to be seen to be tough on drugs, any punishment is likely to be at the stricter end of the scale. Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand was suspended for eight months for missing a drugs test last year despite testing negative the day after the missed test.

Popescu said yesterday that Mutu is "scared" about what might happen to him. "His fate and his future are threatened," he said. "He has taken the news very bad."

Popescu said that Mutu had confirmed to him that the test in question had taken place at Chelsea's training ground earlier this month.

The FA, UK Sport and Chelsea have all declined to comment on the case.

Mutu had already fallen out with Chelsea's coach, Jose Mourinho, before his failed test, with the player's fitness the main bone of contention. He has yet to make a first-team start under the Portuguese manager, with his last appearance for his club being as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Aston Villa on 11 September. He has played for Romania, against Chelsea's wishes, in the interim, including captaining his country in the 1-0 defeat to the Czech Republic on 9 October.

Mutu is the second Chelsea player who is known to have tested positive for drugs. Goalkeeper Mark Bosnich was banned for nine months last year by the FA, and sacked by Chelsea, for testing positive for cocaine.

Comments