Disgraced former Chelsea forward Adrian Mutu faces a nine-month ban by the Italian Olympic Committee after failing routine anti-doping tests in January. However, with this now the second time the star has found himself banned from the sport for failing a drugs test, is the length of the sentence long enough, and what kind of example does this set?
The Romanian international tested positive for the substance sibutramine with the anti-doping tribunal ruling he will not be able to return to action until October 29. This is the second drugs ban of the footballer’s career and given the tribunal’s ruling of the case, now qualifies as a repeat offence.
Having re-built his reputation and his career at Fiorentina after failing a drugs test in 2004 whilst at Chelsea, Mutu now faces being forever branded a drugs cheat with this latest shame to his name. The Romanian international, 31, reacted angrily to the result, before apologising for the enforced absence to his fans: “I feel this is a harsh punishment. It seems too much. I expected less because, yes, the mistake was made, it’s right to pay, but not so much. I would like to add that I am sorry for having left Fiorentina without my services for the next few months, both for the club and for the fans.”
The drug sibutramine, which the player had been taking, is usually administered orally for the treatment of obesity and has been outlawed because it carries cardiovascular risks. Mutu’s hedonistic lifestyle was no secret whilst he was at Chelsea and his smoking, drinking and eating habits annoyed more model professionals such as ex-teammate Frank Lampard. Mutu tested positive for cocaine whilst with the west London team and left the country in disgrace, sacked from his club and banned for seven months, with a £20 000 FA fine to boot. The player is still in the middle of an appeal to overturn a staggering fine of approximately £17m he has been ordered to pay Chelsea and other affected parties for the 2004 affair.
On the pitch, the return to Italy appeared to have refocused and rejuvenated the striker and he was attracting the interest of Italy’s biggest clubs again, tipped for a move this summer. However, his career and any future transfer have now been put on hold after this latest shame. Fiorentina have stuck by their No 10 during the court case with Chelsea, offering to help resolve matters to protect the player from bankruptcy. The faith shown by his club and its fans remains even after this latest twist, with the club suggesting they will stick by the player in the eventuality of a lengthy ban, as is now the case.
Whilst such faith in a member of their playing staff is admirable, there are questions to be raised about the example this latest affair sets. Mutu is still struggling to live with the consequences of the first drugs shame, and while benefiting from the support la Viola has offered him, the fact he has gone on to fail a second test, shown no remorse for the offence committed and remains on the payroll of a top-flight Italian team, sets a dangerous precedent.