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May 26, 2011

Toure banned for six months

Manchester City defender Kolo Toure has been handed a six-month suspension, backdated to March 2, by the Football Association for testing positive for a specified substance.

• Kolo Toure suspended over drug test

Toure will be available to play again for his club in September as the ban begins on the date of his provisional suspension. An independent regulatory commission also ruled that the 30-year-old will be target-tested for a period of two years.

Toure, who is the first footballer at a Premier League club to fail a drugs test since Chelsea's Adrian Mutu in 2004, admitted the offence - his first - contrary to Regulation 3 of the FA Doping Regulations 2010-11.

But the panel took into consideration the circumstances behind his use of water tablets belonging to his wife.

Back in March, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he had spoken to his former captain and intimated then that Toure failed the drugs test after taking a diet pill belonging to his wife. "He wants to control his weight a little bit because that's where he has some problems and he took the product of his wife," Wenger said.

The commission, headed up by Christopher Quinlan QC, were satisfied Toure did not intend to enhance sporting performance or to mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance.

Toure later said he was relieved at the decision. "This has been a difficult period for me, '' he told the club's website. "I am sad to have missed the team's triumph of securing Champions League football and also the FA Cup victory at Wembley.

"But I am relieved I will be able to return to football in September and thank the FA's commission for their understanding about my case in coming to their decision. ''

Toure could have been suspended for two years but one member of the panel felt he should not have been banned for longer than three months but the majority disagreed.

Quinlan said: "The criterion in assessing any reduction in what would otherwise be the minimum penalty of two years' suspension is the player's degree of fault. The player accepted he was at fault and with that concession we agree.

"He was at fault in the limited and perfunctory efforts he made in relation to the water tablets; the checks he made in relation to those tablets were inadequate and fell some way below what it would be reasonable to expect of a professional footballer in these circumstances.

"In fixing the appropriate period of suspension we had regard to all the relevant matters we have read and heard during the course of the hearing.

"The period of suspension suggested by Mr Lewis QC was one not in excess of three months. With respect, we disagree. In our judgment, the appropriate period of suspension is one of six months commencing on March 2, 2011.''

Under regulation 32 Toure cannot participate in any football match or any other football related activity other than anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes.

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