Jose Baxter, the Sheffield United midfielder, has already presented his case to the Football Association after testing positive for a banned substance last season, writes James Shield.
The Star understands that Baxter made representions to the governing body’s investigators before Nigel Adkins was appointed manager of the League One club in June.
Adkins is understood to have received a detailed briefing of the circumstances behind the 23-year-old’s predicament soon after taking charge and, as predicted, confirmed he will be attending today’s hearing at Wembley where Baxter is scheduled to discover what sanction the FA hope to impose.
Options include a suspension of up to six months or, given the player’s previous good character, a reprimand and reminder about his future responsibilities.
“The day after I joined I sat him down to understand what the situation was,” Adkins said earlier this week. “His attitude has been spot on.”
“We’re there to support him,” Adkins continued. “Discipline is so important to the club. We’re there to educate as well.
“All players need to understand they’re role models moving forward. We can’t affect what’s happened in the past.”
Traces of a prohibited drug, thought to be MDMA, were discovered Baxter’s system during a routine out-of-competition procedure before May’s League One play-off semi-final against Swindon Town. ‘Out-of-competition’ refers to tests undertaken during training sessions or at the subject’s home address rather than immediately before or after games.
Regulation 43 of the FA’s Anti-Doping guidelines, which deals with social rather than performance enhancing substances, confirms penalties for a “first violation” range from “a minimum of a warning” to “a maximum of 6 months suspension.” Those who are found to have broken the code again can be banned for “a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 2 years.”
A fourth breach would result in the subject being permanently excluded from the sport.
Baxter, who made 37 starts for United last term, is thought to have told the FA his drink was spiked after being informed of the result. Adkins’ predecessor David Weir signed the Liverpudlian from Oldham Athletic in August 2013.
Like former United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, who received a nine month ban after testing positive for ephedrine six years ago, Baxter could also be subjected to target testing following today’s verdict.
The FA accepted Kenny had not attempted to “enhance sporting performance” after taking an over-the-counter cough medical without seeking advice from United’s medical department.