Scottish football conducts eight drugs tests in nine months

By Alistair Magowan & Alasdair LamontBBC Sport
Scottish football
Scottish football performed no tests in the last three documented months

Only eight drugs tests have been conducted in Scottish football during the last nine months with none in the last three, BBC Sport has learned.

Former Partick Thistle player Jordan McMillan is the only British footballer currently banned, for taking cocaine.

But the Scottish Football Association, which does not fund any testing, says football in Scotland is "clean".

UK Anti-Doping, which compiles the tests, said it was up to sports to decide if drug testing was important.

Ukad chief executive Nicole Sapstead told BBC Sport. "Is it important? If it is, then put your hand in your pocket and start paying towards your programme.

"We as an organisation can only do so much."

The SFA's latest turnover was £33.6m.

Jordan McMillan
Scottish footballer Jordan McMillan is currently the only footballer banned under Wada's code

How does England compare?

The eight tests excludes those by Scottish internationals or teams in Uefa club competitions but there were 1,583 tests in English football over the same period from April to December 2015.

In Scottish Rugby Union there were 103 tests.

But an SFA spokesman told BBC Sport: "We are ever-vigilant of the global threat of doping in sport and have discussed the possibility of Ukad extending their provision in Scottish football.

"We remain in constant dialogue with UKAD and the intelligence-led system has already proven to be robust. We are proud and protective of our reputation as a clean sport."

Scotland's eight in-competition tests for nine months of this financial year were all carried out in the six months between April and September 2015, meaning that for the latest documented quarter from October to December there was no testing in domestic Scottish football at all.

The FA, whose latest turnover was £332m and funds the majority of its programme, has administered 580 in-competition tests and 1,003 out-of-competition tests over the last nine months, with Scottish Rugby Union performing four in-competition tests and 98 out-of-competition tests.

Number of drugs tests carried out in sports from April to December 2015

Why has testing dropped in Scottish football?

The number of tests carried out in Scottish football has also dropped from 144 in 2012-13 to 44 in 2014-15 before what appears to be a further reduction this year.

Sapstead said the decrease was down to limited resources at Ukad, which receives £7m a year from the government, and an intelligence-led approach which suggests Scottish football is not a risk compared to other sports.

"I think it's wrong to compare what was going on four or five years with now because we are a very different beast when it comes to an anti-doping organisation," Sapstead said.

"Some of it is about money, it's not that we can't afford to test in Scotland, but if our intelligence was telling us that there was an issue in Scottish football, then we would be putting our resources into that area."

Gerard Kinsella is the last British player to be banned for taking performance-enhancing drugs

Does British football have a doping problem?

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has previously called for more testing in football, with Sapstead also declaring the sport was "at risk".

But the FA said her comments were "unhelpful" and "misleading" with Wenger later clarifying that he believed English football was clean.

The FA goes one step further than Ukad by banning players who are caught taking recreational drugs out of competition. Last season there were nine violations, with eight for social drugs.

The last British footballer to be banned for taking a performance-enhancing drug was Gerard Kinsella, formerly of Fleetwood Town, for taking nandrolone.

Sapstead added: "The FA invest heavily into a testing and education programme with us. It's a robust programme and it's a high priority. Whether they identify it as a higher risk or otherwise, it's clearly something they want to invest in.

"Clearly what motivates governing bodies is different, and it might be that given the profile of Scottish football, maybe it's felt the players don't warrant the sort of attention the English FA wants to place on its players."

The Scottish FA also said that it launched a campaign in 2014 called 'Keep it Clean' to "protect the reputation of the national game by providing a free hotline to report any integrity-related issues, including doping".

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