Kolo Toure suspension will pose questions

It was announced yesterday that Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has been suspended by the club after his ‘A’ sample tested positive for a specified substance in a recent drugs test. However, the Ivory Coast international could escape serious punishment as WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) defines a specified substance as one ‘more susceptible to a credible, non doping explanation.’ It would also appear to rule recreational drugs out of the equation.

Although the punishment for such an offence can warrant a two year ban, Toure has the chance to prove his innocence by asking for a ‘B’ sample (taken in the same test) to be tested. He has until next Wednesday to decide whether he chooses that path and if he does and the sample comes back negative, then the case would be closed and he would be free of any charge. However, if he chooses not to give another sample, then he would have to hand in a written explanation and would face a lengthily disciplinary hearing.

A statement on Manchester City’s website reads ‘Manchester City confirm that the FA has informed Kolo Toure that an ‘A sample’ provided by him has tested positive for a specified substance. As a result of this, he has been suspended from participating in all first and non-first team matches pending the outcome of the legal process. There will be no further comment from the football club at this stage.’

However, the fact that the official FA Doping control regulations have been changed to soften the stance on offences related to minor specified substances could undoubtedly benefit Toure. The regulations state, ‘The definition of Specified Substances now allows the exercising of greater discretion in disciplinary cases. This affords a Regulatory Commission the opportunity to impose a shorter suspension where an offence relates to a Specified Substance.’ Sources close to Toure have said that the substance was found in a dietary supplement and if this is the case then the Regulatory Commission would take that into account and the suspension would in all probability be one low down on the scale.

However, unless Toure’s ‘B’ sample comes back as negative (if he opts to hand it in) then it is likely that the defender will miss the rest of the season. Disciplinary hearings can last for months so the chances of seeing him in a Manchester City shirt again this season appear to be slim. Until we know what the substance is, we can only speculate what the punishment could be but if it proves to be something serious then Toure could be left fighting to save his career and reputation.