Dispatches name and shame former Football League stars

A Channel 4 documentary last night revealed that there were 21 positive tests for cocaine in English football between 2003 and 2010.

Although the majority of these names were not disclosed and remained secret the programme did confirm a number of ex-Premier League and Football League stars who have fallen foul of anti-doping tests.

Heading this list is former Birmingham City and Barnsley player Garry O’Connor. During his time with the Blues the striker tested positive for cocaine on the 19th October 2009 and was handed a two month ban by the Football Association.

This was kept secret by both the club and the FA themselves with manager at the time Alex McLeish putting his prolonged absence down to a further operation on a niggling hip injury.

The Scottish international was then loaned to Barnsley in August 2010.

He featured 26 times for the Tykes but in an exclusive interview with Dispatches Barnsley director Dan Rowling said the club had “no knowledge” of the ban and if they had they would never have taken him on loan in the first place.

Other notable names revealed by the documentary include Elvis Hammond, Lee Thorpe, Shaun Newton, former Crewe youngster Lloyd McGowan and Richard Sadlier who gave a revealing interview to the programme.

Hammond tested positive during his time at Fulham in September 2003 and was handed a longer six month ban. He went on to enjoy Football League spells at Leicester City and Cheltenham and now plies his trade in the Blue Square South with Woking.

As mentioned before Dispatches said there are 21 players who have failed these tests for cocaine but an FA spokesman told the show that they are not legally obliged to release all of these names: “The FA do not report the name of the player [who tests positive for a social drug out of competition] as this offence is not a WADA (World Ant-Doping Association) Code offence and privacy allows the player to undergo any necessary rehabilitation.”

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