Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has warned the Football Association that plans to toughen up drug-testing for Premier League stars will cost an “absolute fortune” and described envisaged new procedures as a nuisance.
From next season, leading players could face a testing regime that would be similar to those employed in cycling and track and field, with a selected group of players required to provide details of their whereabouts for an hour of every day of the year in order to facilitate random testing.
With Rio Ferdinand having been hit with an eight-month ban in 2004 for missing a drug test at the end of the previous year, United have already experienced the downside of doping controls.
Ferguson believes that the new procedures could cause more problems down the line.
He said: “The procedures are becoming a real nuisance to us. If you give a player a day off, you have to notify the FA and tell them them where the player will be for one hour during his day off.
“There are times when you might want to give a player a Sunday off, but you then have to notify the FA and tell them that they are not training and furnish them with the addresses where they will be.
“But you know what young people are like. They might be sat in the house when their wife asks them if they want to go shopping.
“They might even forget that, in that hour, the testers can turn up at the door.
“It's very difficult to do it, but I can tell the FA that it will cost them an absolute fortune to implement all this.”
Ferguson insists that he is supportive of plans to stamp out any sign of drug taking in football, however.
He said: “Of course we are behind anything to drive out any sign or hints of drugs in the game, but the implementation is very difficult.
“They are trying to implement the same system as athletics, but it's very difficult.”
The Professional Footballers Association has said it will oppose aspects of a stricter anti-doping code in English football, plans for which were outlined this week by UK Sport and the FA.
Ferdinand has said he has no problems with the proposed measures, which are in line with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines and could be in force for next season.
“If it brings us up to the level of all the other sportsmen, then I'm in favour,” said Ferdinand, who urged young players not to make the same mistake he did by failing to turn up for a test — an oversight he has attributed to forgetfulness.
“Whatever rules there are out there you have to deal with it,” he said. “You have to make sure you're there to be tested and you have to let people know where you're going to be. Simple as that.”
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