Manchester City have been charged with breaking the Football Association’s anti-doping rules after allegedly failing to provide detailed “club whereabouts” information for their players on three separate occasions.
The charge does not concern any individual player. On Tuesday the governing body issued a statement which said: “It is alleged the club failed to ensure that their ‘club whereabouts’ information was accurate, contrary to regulation 14(d).”
The Premier League club has until 19 January to respond to the charge and is likely to receive a financial punishment should it be found guilty. It is understood the charge concerns training schedules not having been updated with regard to where players would be at particular times – including members of City’s elite development squad.
The FA operates a whereabouts team that has to be informed of where any player of any club might be so that they can be tested whenever the anti-doping department of the governing body wishes.
The FA has a three-strikes-and-out policy and it is alleged City have fallen foul of this, having thrice failed to update schedules of players who have changed training times when they have, for example, moved to train with Pep Guardiola’s first-team squad. Once Manchester City enter a plea, an independent commission will sit and judge the case.
When this will occur is dependent on how City plead and what evidence it might provide for any mitigating circumstances. If the club accepts the charge the case should be resolved quicker than if it pleads not guilty as the commission will require more time to consider it.
The matter concerns a breach of FA rules only and is not under the jurisdiction of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has no provision for team violations in its code, or UK Anti-Doping.
Manchester City are not considered to have committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), because there is no provision for team ADRVs in the World Anti-Doping Agency Code – the document that harmonises anti-doping policies and related rules and regulations for sport across the world. Instead City have been charged under FA rules only and are facing a code of conduct charge that is likely to lead to a reprimand or fine.
Regulation 14(a) reminds clubs that they must furnish the FA upon request with any whereabouts information, which at a minimum should include the dates their players train, the start and finish times of training, the address at which such training will take place; and the home address for a player and any other address at which they regularly reside overnight.
Regulation 14(c) also tells clubs that it will be a breach of the regulation for a club to fail to provide regular details of the times, dates and venues of the club’s training sessions in the manner directed by the FA. Regulation 14(d) – which Manchester City have violated – says it is a breach of the regulations if the information contained in such reports is either initially inaccurate or has not been updated by the club as necessary to ensure it remains accurate.
Guardiola’s side are fourth in the Premier League on 42 points, seven behind the leaders, Chelsea, and next play Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. City’s captain, Vincent Kompany, may be back after seven weeks out with a knee injury. The Belgian has been training all week with the senior squad, along with Leroy Sané who has been out with a muscle injury since before Christmas.