Testing times - drugs in sport

Your Club

Your playing contract will say that the Club can end your contract if you are guilty of gross misconduct, including using a prohibited substance such as cannabis or cocaine. The Club can give you short notice to end your contract. You could try to appeal, but you would have to act quickly and might not succeed.

The FA

the FA anti-doping regulations say that you must not take social drugs (eg cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy) at any time. You could be suspended from playing for 6 months if a drugs test shows that you have taken a social drug (however it got into your body), or for 2 years if the test were after a match.

Sponsorship deals

your endorsement contracts with your sponsors may have a “non-drugs” clause or say that you must not do anything to bring them or the sport into disrepute. If so, failing a drugs test could allow your sponsors to terminate your deals. If your Club loses a sponsorship deal by your actions, they may look to you for compensation for their losses.


It will depend on the terms of the policy, but your medical or motor policies may allow your insurer to refuse to pay a claim if it is related to social drug use. If you are injured or you injure someone else and your insurance won’t pay, this could really affect your financial position. 

Criminal record

The police don’t prosecute for simply having a social drug in your system, unless you are driving or there is other evidence of possession – which is why you hear stories about drug dealers swallowing their stash. It is against the law to possess a social drug, so carrying any on your person or hiding it at home is illegal. The most serious cases of possession could lead to 7 years in prison.

International travel

If you do get arrested for possession of a social drug, you might also find it difficult to travel overseas. For example, an arrest on drugs charges could stop you getting a visa for the United States. 

So it might have started as a fun night out. But failing a drug test for taking a social drug could have really serious consequences for your career, your finances and your life outside football too.

For more information please contact Fiona Hinds.

This article originally appeared in Professional Player Magazine.


It might have been a fun night out to celebrate a win. Maybe it was a crazy party to cheer up after a savage loss. It could start with a few drinks, hanging out with friends and dancing. Maybe getting drunk and just trying something you shouldn't - that's OK, is it? The mega hangover in the morning could be the least of your problems.

Litigation partner Fiona Hinds takes a look at the possible consequences for footballers failing a drugs test.