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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Simon Murphy

Top footballers allowed to use banned drugs and treatments 80 times in last 5 seasons

A doping expert has called for more transparency after it emerged top footballers have been allowed to use banned drugs and treatments multiple times.

We can reveal that sport watchdog UK Anti-Doping granted 80 special exemptions in the last five seasons.

Fourteen went to nine Premier League stars, including four times this season. Another 26 were granted to 16 Championship players since the 2018/19 season.

Some 24 exemptions went to 17 League One players, and 16 to 14 League Two footballers.

The Therapeutic Use Exemptions – known as TUEs – allow athletes to treat health issues using medication or techniques that are normally prohibited. UK Anti-Doping has not identified the players, clubs or medication.

Sport doping expert Ivan Waddington, a visiting professor at the University of Chester, said: “I think they should be more transparent generally. I see no reason why they shouldn’t reveal the substance used.”

Man City medic Dr Andrew Johnson (Alamy Stock Photo)

Prof Waddington says the system – in which requests are considered by three independent docs – should be reformed.

He added: “Much more important than having three doctors who don’t see the patient, I would much rather have just one properly independent doctor examine the patient and write the prescription.”

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing among the 80 cases, which cover first team players to December 9.

And it is not known how many of the TUEs involved banned medication.

In 2017, Russian hackers claimed four players were allowed TUEs at the 2010 World Cup.

UK Anti-Doping said: “Medical conditions that require a TUE include allergy and skin conditions, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, digestive system diseases, respiratory conditions, and pain relief during surgery.

“TUE applications go through a stringent process of review by three physicians. The panel must be unanimous.

“We recognise the public interest and the need for transparency. UKAD has a responsibility to handle confidential health information sensitively and in accordance with the law.”

In 2020, Dr Andrew Johnson, who was at Man City and Bury, was banned from football for four years after breaching rules with a backdated TUE application.

The Football Association said: “We take anti-doping extremely seriously. We fund one of the world’s most comprehensive national anti-doping testing programmes, which is directed by UK Anti-Doping.”

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