Footballer Mendez-Laing returns to sport after a Substance of Abuse ban

Footballer Nathaniel Mendez-Laing returns to sport following a first Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) for the presence of a banned substance in his Sample, which resulted in a three month ban from all sport.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) collected an In-Competition urine Sample from Mr Mendez-Laing on 4 July 2020. Analysis of Mr Mendez-Laing’s A Sample returned Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) for metabolites of cocaine.

Cocaine is an illegal drug, which is banned In-Competition in sport under the WADA 2020 Prohibited List.

On 14 August 2020, the Football Association (FA) notified Mr Mendez-Laing of the AAFs and provisionally suspended him. Mr Mendez-Laing admitted the presence of cocaine metabolites in his Sample, explaining that the substance was taken Out-of-Competition and in a context unrelated to sport performance.

The FA’s independent Regulatory Commission considered the case and issued Mr Mendez-Laing with a three-month ban from sport, applying the 2021 FA Anti-Doping Regulations, which provide for reduced sanctions in cases where a ‘Substance of Abuse’ is used Out-of-Competition and in a context unrelated to sport performance. Considering the time Mr Mendez-Laing spent provisionally suspended by the FA, the Regulatory Commission concluded in its decision dated 20 January 2021 that his ban started on 14 August 2020 and that Mr Mendez-Laing can now return to sport.

Speaking on the case, UKAD Director of Operations, Pat Myhill said: "Illegal drugs have no place in sport. There are new provisions in the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and 2021 FA Anti-Doping Regulations that permit reduced sanctions for ‘Substances of Abuse’ such as cocaine, but athletes should be very clear that they put their health, careers and reputation on the line if they choose to take these drugs.”

Technical terms

Cocaine is classified as a Stimulant under section S6 of the WADA 2020 Prohibited List. It is a non-Specified Substance and is prohibited In-Competition only.

Mr Mendez-Laing was charged by the FA in accordance with FA Rules pursuant to Rule E1(b) for a breach of Regulation 3 of The FA Anti-Doping Regulations 2019-2020.