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The Toe Poke

PFA to fight to save Lazaridis' career

The Professional Footballer's Association has vowed to fight to save Socceroo Stan Lazaridis' career - saying the Perth Glory star's positive drug test was a tragic circumstance of bad timing.

Lazaridis' soccer career hangs in the balance after the former English Premiership star tested positive to the banned drug finasteride, an offence which carries a maximum two-year ban.

But Brendan Schwab, executive chairman of the PFA, said the positive test emanated from treatment Lazaridis was receiving for alopecia - a condition he disclosed and was accepted by football authorities on his arrival back in Australia last year.

"It is certainly a matter we are taking very seriously. But from our point of view this is a tragic case of a player who has a serious medical condition," Schwab told ABC radio.

"He has received the appropriate clearance from the relevant authorities and really faces a potential (drug) hearing due to the timing of the clearance.

"It was not until he returned to Australia the relevant authorities was able to get the approval for the purposes of Australia.

"So we have an issue of timing which we will certainly address in due course."

Perth Glory confirmed the 34-year-old had received notice from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) of a positive finding on a test sample taken in November 2006.

Lazaridis tested positive for finasteride, which may also act as a masking agent - but had not been granted a therapeutic-use exemption from the Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee (ASDMAC) until January 2007.

Schwab said the issue of finasteride as a possible masking agent was not relevant - as Lazaridis had told authorities about his medical condition, and they accepted his need for treatment.

"(A two-year ban) is obviously extremely serious, especially where Stan is at with his career - he is one of the highlights of the A-League," Schwab said.

"The medicine prescribed is by no means a performance-enhancing drug - (it) treats Stan's condition which has been diagnosed as alopecia, which is a very severe form of hair loss and also (causes) discomfort to Stan's skin.

"If Stan is to suffer suspension which we will do our very best to avoid, it will be for taking a substance he is authorised to use.

"And clearly he would not have had that authorisation if it wasn't accepted he had a genuine medical need."

Schwab said a hearing was due to take place over the next month - but the FFA would only confirm it had convened the tribunal, not when it would be.

"Football Federation Australia (FFA) has convened the FFA Anti-Doping Tribunal to determine whether Stan Lazaridis has committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation," an FFA statement said.

"In accordance with our Anti-Doping Policy, FFA will not be make any comments until that hearing process has been completed."

Lazaridis is due to make a statement later Wednesday, a Perth Glory spokesman said.