Professional footballers are elite athletes. At the highest level, players are required to be incredibly fit. Strict dietary requirements and fitness regimes, even during the off-season, are now common place and long gone are the days of players having a few pints and a cigarette after a stressful match. That is why, in the modern game, it is so scandalous for a player to be spotted drinking heavily or smoking. In truth it is kind of ridiculous that people expect athletes to be robots and think they're less committed just because they occasionally engage in habits so many do in society. Athletes are always heavily scrutinized but there are certain times when the criticism is warranted. There comes a certain point when players have to be held accountable for engaging in acts that any citizen would be subject to consequences, be it in our social surroundings, or the law.
Even then, however, there is a cardinal sin greater than that; the failed drug test. Professional footballers are required to take semi-regular 'random' drugs tests, particularly at a high level, with some international players being tested almost weekly. Failure in one of these tests or a refusal to take the test can see a hefty ban from the game and often a sacking by one's employers.
There are certain types of drugs that will result in failure of a drugs test. Social or recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine all show up on the tests, as do performance-enhancing drugs like THG, nandrolone and drostanolone. Whilst these two categories of drugs are used for entirely different purposes, both tend to result in equally hefty fines and punishments. Here are the top 10 footballers who have been caught doing drugs. This list will include both the failure for tests of recreational drugs and performance enhancing drugs.
10 Fernando Couto
9 Kolo Toure
8 Jake Livermore
7 Mark Bosnich
6 Jaap Stam
5 Garry O'Connor
4 Edgar Davids
3 Adrian Mutu
2 Pep Guardiola
1 Diego Maradona
The most high-profile footballer to have failed a drug test, is possibly the most high profile footballer of all time. El Diego, as he was sometimes known, is arguably the greatest talent the game has ever seen. A combination of speed, balance, grace, skill and vision made him virtually unplayable when he was on-song. However, in a career which should be noted for pure genius, like so many geniuses, there was a touch of madness and an occasional dark side to Argentina's golden boy.
Maradona has had consistent drug and weight problems throughout his life, the first coming in 1991 when he was given a 15-month ban after failing a drug test for cocaine. At 34, he was still Argentina's greatest hope at the 1994 World Cup and he scored against Greece in the group stages. Maradona appeared to be on something during his goal celebration and after a 'random' drugs test, he tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine and sent home disgraced. He did not overcome his cocaine addiction until 2005.
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