Chelsea's Mutu in shock at 'failed drugs test'

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The Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu has tested positive for a prohibited substance, an offence that could lead to a two-year ban from the game, it was reported last night.

The Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu has tested positive for a prohibited substance, an offence that could lead to a two-year ban from the game, it was reported last night.

It is understood that the 25-year-old Romanian's positive drugs test arose from a sample taken at Chelsea's training ground last month by UK Sport, who undertake testing in England on behalf of the Football Association.

UK Sport and the FA both declined to comment. Chelsea, with whom Mutu has been involved in recent disagreements, declined to comment, with a spokesman stressing that the club had said nothing about the matter so far and had nothing to add yesterday. There is no evidence that Chelsea played any role in making Mutu's name public.

Mutu's agent, Victor Becali, said last night: "We did not receive anything official until now, but tomorrow morning my partner, Giga Popescu, will go to London. I have heard a lot of people in Romania saying that this [the disclosure of Mutu's name] is Chelsea's revenge against Mutu, but I do not agree because it is not in the interests of the club to make public such a story."

Becali added: "[Chelsea] have their own interests in selling Mutu. I only heard that this is not a recent test. I think it was done in September. I spoke with Mutu on Saturday and he did not say anything to me about this story. I called him yesterday and he was completely shocked."

The FA announced in July that it planned to increase the number of tests in English football by 20 per cent in the 2004-05 season. Last season there were 1,324 tests and seven "adverse" findings.

The majority of those findings were for recreational drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. It is routine practice for players who have previously tested positive to be "target tested" (as opposed to randomly tested) thereafter. "Target testing" is also applied to players where there have been reported suspicions of drug use.

No details have been confirmed about the nature of the substance for which Mutu has allegedly tested positive. It is certainly not for the performance- enhancing drug EPO (erythropoietin), however. The FA announced earlier this month that it would start to test for EPO "in the near future", but testing for the drug has yet to begin.

The nature of the substance is effectively irrelevant. A positive test for a banned substance, be it recreational or performance-enhancing, can be punished with up to a two-year ban.

Mutu will reportedly now be given the option of having his "B" sample tested to confirm the findings of the original test.

Even before yesterday's developments Mutu's future at Chelsea had looked uncertain for some time. Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, admitted on Friday that he was unsure whether Mutu ­ signed by Claudio Ranieri from Parma for £15.8m in August last year ­ would ever play for Chelsea again.

Mutu had claimed to be in "open conflict" with the club over his fitness, and played for Romania last week against Chelsea's wishes. He returned to London to continue receiving treatment for knee and thigh injuries. Mourinho revealed on Friday that there had taken place an "internal" meeting upon Mutu's return over a "personal situation".

The Romanian ­ who was reportedly trying to orchestrate a loan move to Juventus just after the start of the new season ­ has appeared just twice in the Premiership so far since August, both as a substitute.

When asked if he thought Mutu would play for Chelsea again, Mourinho said on Friday: "I cannot say yes... I have individual programmes for my staff to work with him to improve certain qualities and because of the medical problems he has, he is not able to go through these programmes. So at this moment I feel this day is far."