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Xavier fails drugs test

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Taylor: Players are warned



Players' chief Gordon Taylor insists players and clubs are so well informed about banned substances that failed tests such as Abel Xavier's need not happen.


The Middlesbrough defender, 32, has been suspended by Fifa pending the results of a 'B' test, and should that produce another positive result Xavier can expect to be banned for up to two years.


Taylor described such bans as being potentially career-ending and, given Xavier's age, he might struggle to return to top level football should be receive a heavy punishment.


"The player has to make a response," said Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association.


"There will be a test of the B sample but that normally is consistent with the first, and it's a worry because we've gone particularly high profile with circulars to players, and to club doctors and physiotherapists, that if you're taking anything at all you have to okay it with the club because the authorities are taking a much stricter line.


"Uefa and Fifa tie in with WADA, the World Anti Doping Agency, and they (WADA) don't look to distinguish with regards to sanctions between social drugs and performance enhancing."


Xavier is expected to make a statement on Tuesday, after Middlesbrough and Uefa announced news of his failed test on Monday night.


He tested positive for an as-yet-unspecified illegal substance after Boro's Uefa Cup first round second-leg tie against Greek side Xanthi.


Although reports have indicated it may have been part of a supplement imported from the United States to rid himself of a virus, that has not been confirmed.


Even if it was the case, there may be little sympathy for Xavier, as sportsmen and women have repeatedly been warned they are responsible for what enters their systems.


"All I know is they're looking to take stronger action now," Taylor told Sky Sports News.


"It could well be - unless there's a very substantial reason as to why this is positive that is to be understood - anything from six months to two years."


If the substance is proved to be performance enhancing, Xavier may face a bleak future.


"There's a general disapproval (of performance-enhancing drugs) and that's why there's not a lot of sympathy there with the sanctions," Taylor added.


"I know there's very strong moves from Fifa and WADA. We're talking about a minimum two years which would virtually finish a career. So you've got to treat every case on his merits."


Xavier only joined Boro this summer, joining on transfer deadline day to replace Michael Reiziger, who joined PSV Eindhoven.


"We're in touch with the club," added Taylor.


The PFA chief is determined to see the game clean, whether of drugs used recreationally or with the aim of improving performance.


"This is a situation which now has to be dealt with. It's there for players to be very, very careful," said Taylor.


"Football sometimes gets accused of being too soft. I don't think we are. We've extended tests regularly since 1978.


"We like to think the game is relatively clean. The vast majority - hardly any at all - have been performance enhancing, but one can be one too many.


"We've got an image to protect and an image for youngsters coming into the game and when you see what happens in other sports we don't want that in football.


"But we do feel sometimes it's naive to think there's not going to be some social drug positives.


"In that situation you've got to give the player a chance to get back on track and come clean."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Xavier B sample is positive



Uefa has confirmed Middlesbrough defender Abel Xavier's B sample proved positive after his failed drugs test in September.


The 32-year-old former Portugal international will now go before the governing body's control and disciplinary board later this month and could face a 12-month ban from the game.


"The sample B is positive, it's confirmed," said a Uefa spokesman. "The control and disciplinary board of Uefa will judge his case at a hearing which has been provisionally set for 17 November, but the date is not yet confirmed."


Uefa has not revealed the identity of the banned substance involved, but reports have claimed it is the anabolic steroid Dianabol.


Xavier has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and has been building up a defence since it was revealed his A sample had tested positive.


He was tested in Greece after Boro's 0-0 Uefa Cup draw with Xanthi on 29 September, and the results were revealed as the Teessiders jetted off to Switzerland for last month's 1-0 win over Grasshoppers in the same competition.


Xavier, who has been suspended pending the investigation, will have the opportunity to attend the hearing to plead his case in person, and has insisted there is a reasonable explanation.


"I am convinced that there is a reasonable and entirely harmless explanation for such positive finding, should it be confirmed by the analysis of the B-sample," he said in a statement issued through his lawyers in the wake of the initial results.


Manager Steve McClaren, who drafted the former Everton and Liverpool defender in as a short-term replacement for Michael Reiziger during the summer transfer window, promised the club's full support in his fight to prove his innocence.


"He is protesting his innocence vehemently at the moment," he said recently.

From Teamtalk.com

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