Mutu may avoid ban by undergoing counselling

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The Independent Online

Adrian Mutu is to undergo psychological counselling as he looks to get his football career back on track following his positive test for cocaine.

Adrian Mutu is to undergo psychological counselling as he looks to get his football career back on track following his positive test for cocaine.

The 25-year-old Chelsea striker is understood to have flown to Rome after seeing a Football Association doctor, and his agent Victor Becali yesterday revealed his client is to start a daily process of counselling.

Becali said: "Mutu will start a programme of psychological counselling in London, probably on Friday. This programme will be for one hour daily. He has understood what has happened to him and he is very co-operative. Mutu seems to be getting his normal attitude back after some very bad days."

Mutu has agreed to seek professional help after watching his career hit the rocks within 12 months.

A year ago, the Romanian international arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £15.8m move from Parma and became an instant success with the Blues fans by scoring in his opening three games.

However, his two-year marriage to television presenter Alexandra Dimu ended acrimoniously and this was compounded when she was awarded custody of their young son.

Now he is facing a battle to save his career and has been forced to confront the problems associated with his flamboyant lifestyle.

By admitting he has taken cocaine, the player may have saved himself from a ban. The FA's disciplinary committee could order a minimum six-month suspension but, alternatively, they could order him to undergo a period of counselling, treatment and rehabilitation without imposing any ban.

They may react with more compassion to a recreational offence but the World Anti-Doping Agency refuses to recognise any distinction between a "recreational" drug such as cocaine, and performance-enhancing substances.

The UK Sport international director, John Scott, said: "The WADA prohibited list does not include social drugs out of competition, only in competition.

"The FA have gone one step further, which is a very responsible step because they are aware of the sort of lifestyle footballers lead and there is a huge temptation to stray into social drugs use out of competition."

Mutu will also claim his personal problems were a factor of his off-the-field indiscretion. He has been reunited with his wife but leaving his young child behind to play in England had a huge affect on him. It will be interesting to see if that has any effect on the committee.

Juventus remain interested in the player despite his unhappy spell at Chelsea and Atletico Madrid are also keeping an eye on events in London.

The former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who also tested positive for cocaine, claimed his drink had been spiked but his appeal over a nine-month ban failed.

Mutu can be encouraged by the treatment of the former Arsenal striker Paul Merson. He admitted drink, drugs and gambling problems 10 years ago but escaped a two-year ban and was instead ordered to spend six weeks in a rehab clinic.

Chelsea yesteday denied reports suggesting the club has been involved in talks about relocating to the proposed Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

A statement said: "The club completely denies speculation linking us to a move to East London. Chelsea admires the London 2012 Bid and wishes them the best of luck in their attempts to bring the Olympics to London. But there have been no talks either with the London Bid or internally at Chelsea about this matter."

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