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Cocaine use is ‘widespread’ among English footballers, says leading expert on drugs in sport

Indy 100 logo Indy 100 04/01/2019 Tom Kershaw

a close up of food © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The use of recreational drugs including cocaine and marijuana is “widespread” among footballers in England, a leading expert on drugs in sport has warned.

Ivan Waddington, a professor at the University of Chester with decades of experience studying the use of drugs in sport, conducted a study with the cooperation of the PFA in 2005 in which players admitted via an anonymous survey that the use of recreational drugs was commonplace.

Waddington told The Independent in 2018 that the “FA doesn’t take drugs testing as seriously as it ought to”, comments that take on an extra significance just as English football’s governing body asked for witnesses to come forward after a newspaper alleged an England international was kicked out of a nightclub after being caught snorting cocaine at a Christmas party. 

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“I don’t think the FA takes drug testing as seriously as it ought to – it will deny that of course,” Waddington said. “And I certainly don’t think the football clubs take drug testing seriously as seriously they ought to. And again, individual clubs will deny that.”

“In both our studies the professional footballers told us that the use of recreational drugs is widespread. There can be no doubt about that.

“The recreational drugs which are most used are cocaine and marijuana.

“There’s no difficulty about picking up marijuana. The test is technically sound and there’s no difficulty about picking up cocaine.

“We know that large numbers of these players are using these drugs because they told us so why aren’t they being picked up?”

The FA responded to the allegations made by The Sun newspaper on Friday that an international player was caught taking cocaine by a teammate, but insisted that incidents of doping in English football are rare.

An FA spokesman said: “We encourage anyone with information about any anti-doping violation in football to report it to The FA.”

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