England's Football Association has defended its anti-doping policy following claims in a television programme that it attempted to play down cases of players who had tested positive for banned drugs. The claims were made Monday in a Channel Four ‘Dispatches’ programme, which revealed names of several players who have failed drugs tests for cocaine.
It highlighted the case of Scottish international Garry O'Connor, who is accused of failing a drugs test while at Birmingham City and being allowed to serve a secret two-month ban during the 2009-2010 season. When asked to comment on the case, Birmingham declined to comment. The FA's policy is to protect the privacy of players who fail tests for social drugs out of competition, although punishments of up to six months for first-time offenders can be handed out. The FA also stress there is no requirement on them to identify those who have failed tests away from game time.