Betfair blogger Gareth Freeman wonders if Paddy Kenny got the thin end of the wedge with his nine month ban.
Is there anyone else out there who doesn’t understand the ‘doping’ laws in football? Fabio Cannavaro has just been cleared by the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni) after testing positive for a banned substance. The former Ballon d’Or winner saw his case dismissed because he had taken cortisone (the said banned substance) to treat a wasp sting.
Don’t get me wrong, I think this is fair enough. If it had no impact on his performance, it shouldn’t matter, right? I checked out cortisone on wikipedia (granted, not the best source but my knowledge of chemistry doesn’t go much further than GCSE so it should suffice for these purposes) and the effects appear to be of a greater benefit to an athlete than the drug ephedrine. The significance of this is the fact that Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was banned from the sport for nine months because he had taken ephedrine.
Kenny is believed to have taken ephedrine, unwittingly, in a cough syrup. The similarities between Cannavaro and Kenny’s cases are plain to see. Both took a banned substance, apparently without knowing they were breaking the rules, but while one was let off the other was forced out of the game for nine months.
I have to say I thought the penalty handed out to Kenny was extremely harsh. Especially as the FA accepted his version of events in that he had taken it by accident. To put things in perspective, former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu was banned for seven months, two months less than Kenny, for testing positive for cocaine. Fair enough, cocaine may not be a ‘performance enhancing’ drug but he knew what he was doing when he took it. Mutu could hardly have claimed to have taken that by accident, yet his ban was still shorter than Kenny’s was.
One thing is still puzzling me somewhat – namely why Cannavaro was let off and Kenny wasn’t? One factor could have been his lawyer, Ettore Torri, who has a reputation for getting sports stars off doping charges. His case was also heard by Coni, while Kenny’s case was heard by the FA. With a World Cup coming up next summer, having Cannavaro banned may not have been the most popular decision with the Italian public, but far be it from me to suggest some kind of corruption in Italian sport. Obviously this is just my own view point and only based on what I have read but I still think it is an intriguing thought nonetheless.
As far as I’m concerned Kenny’s punishment was far too harsh and his career may have been ruined by it. He could well lose his position as the Blades number one, if he hasn’t already, though you would expect him to find another club even if he has to drop down a league or two. I also think the rules should be clearer and more consistent, how is Kenny’s misdemeanour any worse than Mutu’s cocaine abuse? And why was Cannavaro’s case dismissed because he had taken a banned substance by mistake, while for Kenny this fact was irrelevant? I don’t necessarily think the decision by Coni not to take action against Cannavaro was a bad one, I just think Kenny has been dealt a very poor hand.