Professional footballers in today’s modern game are renowned for their clean-cut image. Let’s face it, take one look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram account and you can see for yourself he didn’t get that body by heading down to his local after banging in a hat-trick at the weekend. The point I’m trying to make is today’s modern footballers clean cut image is in stark contrast to the bygone era which was home to much loved footballers such as George Best, Diego Maradona and even as recently as Paul Gascoigne.
They are held to a far higher standard in comparison to the heroes that came before them. With the rise of social media coverage, tabloids and of course players wages any ‘mistake’ is heavily scrutinised on a far wider level than every previously known.
Today, you only have to open up your daily newspaper to read about a footballer having the audacity of having a night out with their friends only to be labelled as an “overpaid lout”.
Even then, however, there is one cardinal sin that a footballer can’t allow themselves to fall victim of, the failed drug test. As many know, professional sports are heavily regulated in terms of anti-doping. Failure of a drugs test or refusing to take one not only is damaging to a player’s profile, it can result in a lengthy ban and in a lot of cases ruining their career.
Some footballers in recent years have fallen foul of these strict anti-doping rules. Most recently for example the Peruvian Paolo Guerrero, Peru’s captain who will luckily get to fulfil his childhood dream after the Swiss Supreme Court lifted his sanction just for the World Cup.
Every now and again, footballers suffer from a momentary lapse in concentration or a deeper issue and in turn will be caught taking or using banned substances they shouldn’t be. There is a list of types of drugs that will result in the failure of a drug test when taken. Social or recreational drugs such as cocaine, marijuana (not including CBD) and methamphetamine all show up on tests when used. Not forgetting to mention performance enhancing drugs. It might sound strange, but both tend to come with equally hefty fines and punishments, even though there is a substantial difference in how certain drugs affect the user in different ways.
We have listed the top five footballers who were both caught and banned from the game for failing drugs tests.
The former Manchester United defender was banned for five months for use of the banned steroid nandrolone back in 2002 whilst playing for Italian club Lazio. He was also fined €50,000 following the Italian league’s disciplinary commission meeting. Stam had only recently moved to the club in 2001 after his treble winning heroics with Manchester United in 1999. When the news initially came out that Stam had failed his test he was in the supermarket with his daughter, and thought his failed test was a joke when a friend notified him of the news. Stam protested his innocence and his ban was eventually reduced to four months.
After his successful playing career with Barcelona, Pep moved to Brescia in Serie A in Italy in 2001. Only a few months later he tested for the steroid nandrolone similarly like Jaap Stam. Like Stam, he protested his innocence only to receive a four-match ban and a €50,000 fine. Guardiola was furious with what he saw as the tarnishing of his reputation and campaigned against the ban long after he had left the Italian club. He was finally cleared of all charges in 2009.
The Romanian international striker was a hugely talented and promising young player when he first signed for Chelsea in 2003. It’s a case of what might have been with Adrian Mutu after failing a drugs test for cocaine shortly after before being released the following year. He was banned for seven months and fined £20,000 by the Football Association of England. He would return to football to have spells with teams such as Juventus, Fiorentina and Cesena to name a few, but the damage was done, and his promising career failed to reach the heights it possibly could have.
Back in 2011 the then Man City defender Kolo,Kolo,Kolo,Kolo,Kolo,Kolo, Kolo Touré was banned for six months following a failed test which was believed to be due to his wife’s diet pills. Touré was the first player in the Premier League since Adrian Mutu in 2004 to fail a drugs test. Touré claimed he had taken the pills in a bid to lose weight and was unaware of any wrong doing. The FA eventually seemed to take the circumstances behind the failed test into consideration, however, Touré still had to serve the ban.
No surprises who tops the list. Without doubt, the most high-profile case of a footballer being banned for taking drugs comes in the form of the little Argentinian genius, Diego Maradona. Long before we were singing the praises of Messi, Maradona was an icon of the game. People say lighting never strikes twice but in the case of Diego it most certainly did.
The World Anti-Doping Agency otherwise known as (WADA) are the guys and girls responsible for the World Anti-Doping code across the globe, with over 600 countries adopting the practices, including the Football Association of England. They decide what substances are allowed and what substances will have your favourite footballer on our list. Recently they announced as of the 1st of January 2018 a list of changes to that list, most notably regarding cannabidiol also most commonly referred to as CBD. If you’ve never heard of CBD vape oil or any other CBD related products, it’s well worth researching into. Sports stars from different sporting backgrounds such as Nate Diaz from the UFC (who famously vaped CBD during a post-fight interview) and a list of NFL players actively promote the use of CBD for its healing properties.
The World Anti-Doping Agency List Expert Group have recently declared that synthetic cannabidiol or CBD as it’s more regularly known, is not a cannabimimetic and therefore is no longer prohibited to use. Those players who decide to use CBD however, must be cautious that what they are using is of a high quality and doesn’t contain any high volumes of THC as this remains a banned substance.
With this latest update, will we see more and more banned substances becoming acceptable to use. And if so, do players like Jaap Stam, Pep Guardiola have a right to feel aggrieved to what seems like unfair bans that could have potentially destroyed their careers? We can only wait and see.