James Lawton: Chelsea's sacrificing of Mutu misses point

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Adrian Mutu has been tossed to one side by Chelsea, and with the contemptuous implication that they would rather be rid of a self-confessed cocaine user than retain the chance of recouping some of the £16m invested in his once-brilliant talent.

This sacrifice, despite owner Roman Abramovich's apparently bottomless oil reservoir, has drawn praise, understandably enough given the current level of anarchy in the game.

However, some of the issues surrounding Mutu's self-destruction are a little more complicated. If Mutu is finished because he used cocaine, what of the well-known drinking habits of some of his team-mates, and do reports that three of them lost many thousands of pounds in one day's gambling spree form a picture of responsible professionalism? The valuable point has already been made that there is a huge difference between recreational and performance-enhancing drugs, and, in terms of professional responsibility, much less so between taking cocaine and indulging in regular drinking binges. A club like Chelsea, with its huge wage bill, is clearly obliged to monitor the behaviour of its employees, and this should include regular testing of its own for recreational drugs and alcohol abuse.

The sports minister, Richard Caborn, said that the government was watching the Mutu situation. You wonder why. Mutu's fate was properly in his employer's hands. Caborn's job is to make sure that sport in this country is properly tested for performance-enhancing drugs. It is not for him to agitate for two-year bans for casualties of the fast lane. He could probably find quite a few of those around Westminster.

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