Alexis Sanchez missed drugs test: What's next for Man United No.7?

Jose Mourinho says he was delighted with Alexis Sanchez’s Manchester United debut.

Jose Mourinho says he was delighted with Alexis Sanchez’s Manchester United debut.

Arsene Wenger has admitted Alexis Sanchez missed a drugs test to complete his move to Manchester United, but insisted the club and the player “have nothing to hide.”

The story caused some confusion as to what happens next and who is in the wrong, so ESPN FC asked Ross Brown, a senior associate at Onside Law, about the case. 

ESPN FC: Which organisation conducts the tests — the Premier League, Football Association, UEFA, FIFA or WADA?

A: The tests are conducted by UK Anti-Doping under the terms of the FA’s Anti-Doping Programme for the 2017-18 football season.

However, a national association such as the FA will take guidance from the anti-doping practices of regional or international federations, such as UEFA and FIFA, to ensure there is as much consistency as possible. In turn, all of them will take guidance from WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code and the FA’s rules explicitly implement key provisions of the Code.

Q: What rule/s did Sanchez contravene by missing a test?

A: Sanchez has not broken any FA rule by missing the test. The FA Rules, following the WADA Code, consider three missed tests, or three failures to accurately record your whereabouts, within a rolling 12-month period to constitute an anti-doping rule violation.

Sanchez will need to provide an explanation for his missed test. If he cannot provide one that is accepted by the FA and UK Anti-Doping the test is formally recorded as being missed.

It is only if he misses two further tests between now and January 2019, that Sanchez will have broken a rule and be liable for a sanction.

This incident should serve as a warning to ensure that no other tests are missed.

Alexis Sanchez Alexis Sanchez moved to Manchester United in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan last week.

Q: Ultimately, whose responsibility is it that he missed it — his, Arsenal’s or Manchester United’s?

A: While Arsenal appear to have accepted responsibility for the missed test and do have obligations under the FA Rules, it is actually Sanchez who is ultimately responsible.

All players are obligated to be aware of the FA rules and to understand them. This includes understanding what constitutes an anti-doping rule violation and making themselves available for testing.

Players do this through logging their whereabouts on ADAMS (the Anti-Doping Administration and Management System). This system requires Sanchez to provide details such as his location during one hour on every day of the year, his regular activities such as training and his competition schedule. Any changes to any of this must be updated on the system. Anti-doping authorities such as UK Anti-Doping have access to ADAMS.

In practice, however, the relevant player’s club will take responsibility for keeping ADAMS updated and generally ensuring that players do not fall foul of the FA Rules. Therefore, it is no surprise that Arsenal admit some fault for failing to update Sanchez’s whereabouts.

Manchester United have no responsibility. Sanchez was not registered as their player at the time of the missed test. However, they will now need to help Sanchez ensure that he misses no further tests.

Alexis Sanchez was an Arsenal player at the time of the missed test.

Q: Is there an exemption for this kind of event within the rules?

A: There is no exemption for missing a test due to formalising a transfer. There is also no exemption for holidays, injuries or travel.

Q: What are the next steps in the process for this case to be handled?

A: As there is no breach of the FA Rules at this time, no formal process will be followed. All that will happen is that the FA and UK Anti-Doping will seek an explanation from Sanchez and Arsenal and, if they do not accept it is sufficient, they will formally record a missed test on to the records of both player and club.

Q: What is the precedent for how this type of case is treated a) in football b) across other major sports?

A: As the FA, along with many national, regional and international federations, follows the WADA Code closely there is significant overlap between English football and football federations from other countries — the Scottish FA deal with missed tests and filing failures in the same way.

Likewise, other major sports, such as tennis, adopt the same approach as well.

Alexis Sanchez Manchester United’s new signing will not face any sanction in this instance

Q: What sanction is he likely to face? What about Arsenal or United?

A: Sanchez will not face a sanction as he has not yet committed an anti-doping rule violation. He will simply need to be more vigilant to ensure he does not miss two more tests within the next 12 months.

Neither club will face any sanction either. Arsenal will also need to ensure that none of their other players miss any further tests. Again, if there are three in a 12 month period then they could face a sanction — Manchester City and Bournemouth both received fines last season for this offence.

Q: What happens if he misses any more tests?

A: If Sanchez misses two further tests within the next 12 months then he will be liable for a ban of between one and two years depending on his level of fault.

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