Player’s shock at TV drug expose

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FORMER Seasiders striker Lee Thorpe today revealed he is considering legal action after a TV documentary claimed he had tested positive for cocaine and it was covered up by the FA.

Lee Thorpe – who has plied his trade at Blackpool FC, Fleetwood Town and is currently playing for AFC Fylde – spoke out after Channel 4’s Dispatches programme named him as one of four players caught using the drug between 2003 and 2010. Channel 4 said the information was found in a leaked document.

The programme said the 35-year-old, who became a Fleetwood Town hero after scoring the goal which sent them into the Blue Square Premier League two seasons ago, allegedly tested positive for drugs back in 2008.

Thorpe today told The Gazette: “I’m not very happy to be honest. I was assured by the FA and the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) that it would be a private matter.

“I need to speak to my legal representative before I make any further comment.”

The striker, described as a “model professional”, played 13 times for Blackpool in the early 1990s and also had spells with Lincoln, Rochdale – where the alleged test failure occurred – and Fleetwood before signing for current club AFC Fylde at the start of this season.

He was one of 43 players – some named and some not – exposed by Dispatches – The Truth About Drugs In Football as having positive tests for taking recreational drugs covered up by the FA.

AFC Fylde and Fleetwood Town both reacted with shock at the revelations. Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite (pictured) today backed his player.

He said: “This is the first I have heard about it and I am a believer if people have done something wrong they deserve a second chance.

“Since Lee has been with us, he has not been anything other than a good professional, and he came to us highly recommended by his former club Fleetwood Town.”

Thorpe scored the winning goal in Fleetwood’s 2-1 victory over Alfreton Town in the Conference North Play-Off Final in May 2010 – a victory which secured them promotion.

Club chairman Andy Pilley today told The Gazette: “Lee was a model professional while he was with us and we can’t speak highly enough of him.”

The FA have been forced to defend their anti-doping rules in the wake of the programme, which also claimed former Premier League star Garry O’Connor was allegedly banned by the FA for taking cocaine while playing for Birmingham City.

It is the association’s policy to keep the names of players who fail tests for recreational – rather than performance enhancing – drugs a secret and allow them the privacy to seek help, although they can face bans of up to six months.

An FA spokesman said: “The FA operates a comprehensive anti-doping programme which is the largest of any sport in the UK.

“The FA prohibits all the doping offences listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code and applies all the sanctions laid down in the code for those offences.

“Football is one of the only sports in the UK which ban social drugs at all times, and were the first to do so.

“Any player who tests positive for a social drug out of competition is charged and subject to a sanction which ordinarily includes a suspension from all football activity for a period of up to six months for a first time offence. The FA do not report the name of the player as this offence is not a WADA code offence and privacy allows for the player to undergo any necessary rehabilitation and counselling.”

But WADA believe the FA should consider naming all players caught using banned drugs, no matter what they have taken or when they are tested. The agency’s director general David Howman said by not naming certain players the FA was allowing a “perfectly good programme to be tainted by secrecy”.