ELEVEN stars in the Premier League have been cleared to continue playing despite providing positive drugs tests.
And investigation has revealed that over the past three seasons, 16 UK Anti-Doping tests had come back showing use of performance enhancing substances.
The Mirror say traces of amphetamine, Ritalin, Triamcinolone and morphine were discovered in samples collected from the 2016-17 campaign through to last season.
But all were allowed to continue playing after the Football Association accepted their explanations that the drugs were for medical purposes or ingested “via a permitted route”.
UKAD then accepted the FA findings after scrutinising them with an independent three-person panel.
Due to the strict medical confidentiality rules, and the FA’s own regulations over reporting of adverse findings, fans would never discover if any tests had failed.
But Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Authority, claims football could have a far greater problem than it thinks with drugs cheats.
Pound said: “For the largest sport in the world which is highly aerobic, the fact there are so few positive outcomes is a matter of suspicion in its own right.
“The real problem is most of the sports authorities do not wish to have positive tests. They think it’s bad for their reputation.
“They don’t want to invest in any major effort. My view when running WADA was that FIFA had little if any interest in digging into the problem.
“That’s what cycling used to say. There’d be another test and they’d say it’s not indicative of widespread usage in cycling. Track and field was a bit like that.
“Weightlifting was a bit like that. Swimming is currently like that. It does take a crisis and then a real uprising to produce some action.”
Of the 11 Premier League players, some were cleared as a result of providing Therepeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs).
These are legitimately used throughout sport by competitors who need to treat medical conditions with a banned substance if no others which are permitted can be used.
An FA spokesperson said: “The FA takes anti-doping extremely seriously and operates one of the most comprehensive programmes across world sport in partnership with UK Anti-Doping.
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“It applies to all professional clubs, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship, as well as the England Men’s, Women’s and Development teams.
“From the 2015-16 to 2018-19 seasons, there were 16 adverse analytical findings (AAFs) in the Premier League. However, an AAF does not automatically lead to an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
“In each AAF, the participant was able to prove either: possession of a Therapeutic Use Exemption; show that the substance was ingested via a permitted route; or present in a sample through the ingestion of a substance that is permitted under the WADA code.”