FA launches drive to educate players against drug abuse

A fresh initiative aimed at combating the threat of the "designer steroid" THG and other illegal supplements has been set up by the Football Association.

A fresh initiative aimed at combating the threat of the "designer steroid" THG and other illegal supplements has been set up by the Football Association. The brainchild of Alan Hodson, the FA's head of sports medicine, the £50,000 drug-busting drive covers all 92 professional clubs and has the full backing of the Professional Footballers' Association and UK Sport, which runs the FA's anti-doping programme.

With the FA poised to charge Rio Ferdinand over his missed drugs test and the game still reeling from the news that two more professional players have tested positive ­ one for cocaine, the other for ecstasy ­ it is hoped that the latest campaign will increase awareness among players of the dangers of taking unlicensed food products.

Although the two recent positive tests ­ revealed last week and involving lower-league players ­ are of some concern to the FA, its medical staff are far more worried about the possible effect on the game of THG.

The sprinter Dwain Chambers tested positive for the previously undetectable designer steroid, for which professional footballers may also soon be screened. Every professional club, academy and centre of excellence has been sent a card listing all food supplements which may contain illegal substances, together with an educational pamphlet entitled Use And Abuse Of Supplements, with more detailed information on potentially suspicious dietary aids.

"Every dressing-room should now be aware of the consequences of ingesting certain food supplements, and players should not take anything unless they first check with the club's medical officer," Hodson said. "Many food supplements may contain prohibited substances in tiny amounts that may not necessarily be on the label and we are trying to do everything possible to make players aware of this.

"THG is just the latest. There are going to be more and more coming out that are undetectable, so my message is not to take anything ­ even if the bottle says it doesn't contain anything illegal."

Hodson added that in his 14 years of working with the FA, there had only ever been one case of a player testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, unlike in other sports such as athletics and cycling, where drug abuse has been a major problem. "One positive in 7,000 tests is a pretty good record but it's mainly because of education," he said. "There are problems in football across Europe with nandrolone and other prohibited substances because more and more players are looking for the edge. We must therefore continue to be proactive and warn our players of the dangers. Because more and more European players and managers are coming over and we are adopting European methods, we have to make sure that we don't get complacent."

UK Sport's director of drug-free sport, Michele Verroken, said the FA initiative would help educate players about which supplements were safe and which were potentially illegal.

As the FA considers what, if any, charges to press against Ferdinand, Verroken admitted lessons may have to be learned if it is established that the testers themselves were at fault by allowing Ferdinand to leave the club's training ground on 23 September without undergoing the required procedure.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future