Drugs testing in football: Mick McCarthy says ban threat should be sufficient deterrent

Test tube in a laboratory
UK Anti-Doping collected 1,204 samples from 1,989 players to appear in the EFL during the 2015-16 season

The threat of a ban from football should be enough of a deterrent without the need for drug testers, according to Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy.

McCarthy was responding to a BBC Sport study which found at least 39% of English Football League (EFL) players were not tested in 2015-16.

"To risk a career and getting banned for a couple of years, there really not ought to be any drug testers," he said.

The study also found no tests were carried out in the National League.

McCarthy told BBC Look East that testers had been to Ipswich frequently during the current season.

"They spend that much time here, I don't know how they can get around the rest of the country," he said.

"I can't understand why any player with the riches in the game and the amount of money would take the risk. That should be enough of a deterrent, but quite clearly it's not."

The numbers tested in 2015-16

  • In the Premier League, 799 samples were taken from 550 players.
  • In the Championship, 540 samples were taken from 689 players to make a minimum of one appearance last season, meaning at least 21% were not tested.
  • In League One, 347 samples were taken from 742 players to make an appearance, meaning at least 53% of players were not tested.
  • In League Two, 317 samples were taken from 749 players to make an appearance, meaning at least 57% of players were not tested.

According to UK Anti-Doping (Ukad), which carries out testing on behalf of the Football Association, Brentford midfielder Alan Judge was the only player in England and Wales to breach doping regulations during the 2015-16 season - an offence for which he was reprimanded.

The FA said there were also three failed tests by unnamed players for recreational drugs last season, adding that "like any sport" it prioritised its anti-doping programme "at the elite end".

'A blind eye' turned to National League

Martin Allen, manager of National League club Eastleigh, admitted his frustration at a lack of consistent controls and checks throughout the football pyramid.

"I didn't know there was no testing in the National League, but it also doesn't surprise me," he told BBC Radio Solent.

"People at the FA and the EFL, they're just living in their own world and they don't notice what goes on at the lower levels and in non-league football.

"I think they have just turned a blind eye to it."

Meanwhile, former Italy international forward Gianfranco Zola, now manager of Championship side Birmingham City, said "testing should be random and it should be for everyone".

He told BBC WM: "I'm assuming when they do the checks and controls, they are trying to cover all teams and all divisions.

"I think our players have been tested five times so far this season, so they've certainly been to see us."