Old Trafford a drug-free zone, says Sir Alex

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday entered the controversy over Rio Ferdinand's missed drugs test by saying that no Manchester United player takes banned substances for either recreational or enhanced-performance motives.

"I can't say too much about that [the Ferdinand affair]," he wrote in yesterday's programme for the game against Fulham, "because the FA are still dealing with the situation, but I would like our supporters to be sure of one thing: if there were any danger of one of our players dabbling in any kind of drug, be it to enhance his performance or for his social life, he would be quickly gone from United. Be assured the manager, his coaches and medical staff would know. Believe me, we have nothing like that at Old Trafford."

Players' union chief executive Gordon Taylor believes revelations over two unnamed members' positive tests for social drugs will cause "hysteria" concerning their identities, and has criticised the drug-testers for an "immediate breach of confidentiality".

It emerged that two players tested positive for cocaine and Ecstasy during the last three months when UK Sport published their quarterly results. The players were among 272 from the Premiership, Football League and Conference tested between 1 July and 30 September.

The FA have refused to confirm the identities, but Taylor claims the players have had their confidentiality breached. "We've had two positive tests for social drugs," said Taylor, "and now there's a witch-hunt to find out who. It's hysteria and prejudicial to a hearing." Taylor urged a dialogue between the relevant bodies. "I can understand why other sports have chosen not to use UK Sport. The FA, PFA and UK Sport need to sing from same hymn sheet."