Sheffield United: Jose Baxter failed a drug test

Sheffield United's Jose Baxter has failed a drug test, The Star can confirm.

Friday, 19th February 2016, 8:11 pm
Updated Friday, 19th February 2016, 8:20 pm
Jose Baxter

Officials at Bramall Lane are thought to have been informed of the result following Tuesday's defeat by Bury which was his 201st senior appearance.

If the results of the procedure at upheld, it would mark the latest turbulent chapter in a career which has already been plagued by off-the-pitch incidents and could, depending upon the outcome of Baxter's 'B' sample, potentially force United to cut their ties with a player who has exhilarated and exasperated in equal measure since making his professional debut eight years ago.

Baxter was banned for five months, with three of those being suspended, after traces of ecstasy were discovered in his system before last term's play-off semi-final against Swindon Town. The midfielder told a Football Association tribunal, held at Wembley soon after Nigel Adkins' appointment as manager in June, that his drink had been spiked during a night on with friends in London.

The punishment - Baxter faced a maximum ban of six months - suggests the governing body found his version of events credible but United were forced to discipline him again earlier this year after he breached their code-of-conduct during a visit to Dublin.

Adkins, who accompanied Baxter to the capital, eventually integrated him back into the first team squad and, speaking before the match at Gigg Lane, described the former England youth international as a pivotal part of his plans for the remainder of the campaign.

Baxter, who joined United from Oldham Athletic in 2013, progressed through the ranks at Everton before moving to Boundary Park.

Both the FA and UK Anti-Doping, the organisation responsible for undertaking testing on behalf of English football chiefs, adhere to a strict policy of anonymity in cases where drugs which do not necessarily feature of the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited substances are involved.

But United, when an out-of-competition procedure revealed traces of MDMA in Baxter's system before the first leg of the double-header with Swindon, chose to publicly acknowledge the circumstances surrounding his absence when the reason was leaked by a third-party.

"The club has learned that one of its players, Jose Baxter, was found to have traces of a banned substance in his sample following a routine Football Association out-of-competition drug test,” a statement issued at the time read. "The player has informed the club that he engaged in no wrongdoing involving any banned substance."

"Established policy in these circumstances requires that the club temporarily suspend the player pending further findings," it continued. "The club has taken this step without prejudice to the player’s claim of no wrongdoing. The club will offer no further comment at this stage."

Baxter, who became the youngest ever player to start a Premier League fixture when Everton faced West Bromwich Albion during the 2008/09 campaign, moved to Oldham after later rejecting a new contract at Goodison Park. Signed by Adkins' predecessor David Weir, he has scored seven goals in less than 30 outings for United this term.