Doping news in sport other than cycling shocker: footballer Kolo Toure fails drug test

"Specified substance" definition may give Man City player grounds for innocent ingestion defence

by Simon_MacMichael   March 3, 2011  

Kolo Toure (picture Alfonso Jimenez:Wikimedia Commons).jpg

Manchester City Football Club, whose Eastlands stadium is just across the road from the Manchester Velodrome, has announced that it has suspended defender Kolo Toure after the Ivorian tested positive for a “specified substance.”

In a statement published on its website this evening, the club, currently in third place in the Barclays Premier League, said: “Manchester City confirm that the FA has informed Kolo Toure that an ‘A-sample’ provided by him has tested positive for a specified substance.

“As result of this, he has been suspended from participating in all first team and non-first team matches pending the outcome of the legal process.

“There will be no further comment from the football club at this stage,” the statement concluded.

Many cycling fans on the social media site Twitter were quick to seize on the news as potential evidence that football, too, has a doping problem, something hinted at in the past by Dr Eufemanio Fuentes, who during the Operacion Puerto investigation threatened to reveal details of major Spanish football clubs he had worked with.

Indeed, whenever news of a failed drugs scandal breaks within cycling, it’s not long before some rider unconnected to it will opine that cycling is after all the most tested – and therefore the cleanest – sport, and that others do not have as rigorous a testing regime in place, with football often mentioned.

That may be true, and in 2001, a number of Italy-based players including Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids, then of Juventus, received bans for using nandrolone, but what appears clear from the wording of Manchester City’s statement and its reference to a “specified substance” is that we’re not dealing here with a case of EPO, artificial testosterone or – given the cliché of steak being the typical footballer’s favourite meal – clenbuterol.

On the list of Prohibited Substances published by WADA, the World-anti Doping Agency, those three substances are categorised as either anabolic agent (testosterone) or hormone (EPO and clenbuterol).

However, in an article on its website explaining changes made to the World Anti-Doping Code with effect from 1 January 2009, WADA says: “The 2009 Code now provides that all prohibited substances, except substances in the classes of anabolic agents and hormones and those stimulants so identified on the Prohibited List, shall be “specified substances” for the purposes of sanctions.”

WADA continues: “This means that where an athlete can establish how a specified substance entered his/her body or came into his/her possession and that such specified substance was not intended to enhance sport performance, the sanction may be reduced to a reprimand and no period of ineligibility at a minimum, and a 2-year ban at a maximum.

“It is important to note that the newly defined specified substances are not necessarily less serious agents for purposes of sports doping than other prohibited substances (for example, a stimulant that is listed as a specified substance could be effective to an athlete in competition).

“For that reason, an athlete who does not meet the reduction criteria could receive up to a 4-year period of ineligibility in case of aggravating circumstances. However, there is a greater likelihood that specified substances, as opposed to other prohibited substances, could be susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation.”

That final sentence means that in Toure’s case, although clearly the full facts are not yet to hand, we may well be dealing with a substance for which an athlete would find it much easier to mount a defence of innocent ingestion than, for instance, Alberto Contador successfully did following his failed test for clenbuterol, which as mentioned above is not classified as a “specified substance.”

After a decade playing at the top level of English and European football with first Arsenal and now Manchester City, it is likely that Toure can afford lawyers of a similar calibre as those engaged by the three-time Tour de France champion.

9 user comments

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Lets not go overboard on this - just because a footballer has tested positive it doesn't somehow exonerate cyclings doping problem.

I'm sort of dissapointed to see this on a cycling website... you'll be posting the scores next.

posted by cheersbigears [8 posts]
4th March 2011 - 8:37


Agree with previous commentor

You mention this, WHY?

Is this a case of "if footballers are doing it, we're not too bad" ?

Let's stick to something at least tangentially related to cycling, eh?

posted by mad_scot_rider [548 posts]
4th March 2011 - 10:11


Sorry guys, totally disagree. This story doesn't say anywhere that doping is not a problem in cycling + it is a fact that cycling gets a fair old kicking in the mainstream media when other sports with doping problems don't. Cycling is making an attempt to clean itself up, even if the powers that be seem intent on tying themselves in knots as they do it.

We have covered doping stories in other sports (and let's not forget that Puero certainly linked in to other sports) and we will do again - we should have covered the case of the two Springboks recently exonerated by their national federation for taking a supplement containing a banned substance whose defence was the same as Contador's, (involuntary ingestion) but with even less grounds - they didn't bother to read the ingredients - poss cos it was given to them by the national team's coaching staff.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4143 posts]
4th March 2011 - 10:55


So the fact you've covered doping stories in the past in other sports is an explanation for why you're doing so? Thinking

Not a valid debating point, sorry.

If this were a general sports site - or even a general anti-doping site, then fair enough. But last time I checked it was a cycling site.

Whatever nonsense the overpaid children who play in the premier league choose to shove up their noses is of no interest to me whatsoever. And I imagine most of your readers who *do* care would read either a football specific or general sports site (or even the Sun newspaper) to get such trivia.

posted by mad_scot_rider [548 posts]
4th March 2011 - 11:37


You could always read about the new Knog/Lake/Limar/Proviz/Forme stuff if this isn't cycley enough?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7391 posts]
4th March 2011 - 12:00


Oh don't get me wrong - love all the new toy reviews - in fact love the site generally.

That's why I object to navigating around tales of drug-addled ball-kicking adolescents who are probably going out with orange-tinted bints to find the good stuff.

As I say - the Sun newspaper is there for that kind of tosh.

posted by mad_scot_rider [548 posts]
4th March 2011 - 12:19


I think it's interesting. Bizarrely, the "excuse" given is that he took diet pills (containing a banned performance enhancer) to get his weight down. He just "didn't know" they were banned.

The naivety is charming. Compared to "I ate a dirty foreign steak" it's all rather sweet. Amateurs.


posted by BigDummy [289 posts]
4th March 2011 - 16:52


BigDummy wrote:
I think it's interesting. Bizarrely, the "excuse" given is that he took diet pills (containing a banned performance enhancer) to get his weight down. He just "didn't know" they were banned.

The naivety is charming. Compared to "I ate a dirty foreign steak" it's all rather sweet. Amateurs.


Shades of the Shane Warne tale when he was banned for taking a diet supplement from his mum. But as Dick Pound pointed out it also happened to be a masking agent for a drug that speeds recovery from injury. Shane Warne was injured at the time.

ps In fairness AC wouldn't have considered it a 'foreign' steak. Nerd

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [810 posts]
5th March 2011 - 19:21


@mad_scot_rider Crying don't read the non cycling articles if your not intrested... why try & stop everyone else expanding there field of knowledge?

Footballers (or there doctors) are not naive but football fans are! they havn't heard all the excuses we as cycling fans are more than used to hearing, we all want to believe our hero's.

The important difference to notice for me is the way FIFA has protected most of its athletes, where as the UCI regularly blames individuals that they know are on doped teams Surprise

Do you know that some Tennis fans (another very doped sport) believe that Rafa Nadal actully served a drugs ban on the quiet, supported by his federation... while he pretends to be injured!! Devil

When you accept this is the case, it makes sense of comments from many cyclists claiming its unfair or a conspiracy that they've been persecuted.

I'm against taking victories away from riders & handing them to the second place rider that also doped. We have seen far to much of this in the last 13 years.

Paulo's picture

posted by Paulo [110 posts]
9th March 2011 - 15:45