Sheffield United’s Jose Baxter has told the Daily Mail that the worst part of his failed drug test was having to confront close friends and ask if they were responsible for slipping a pill into his drink on a night out.
He said: “I got a lot thrown back: “Of course it wasn’t me. Would I do that to you?”
“They were offended and hurt, I’ve been mates with some of them since we were 12. But I had to try and find out because I couldn’t put my finger on what happened, and maybe I’ll never know.”
Traces of ecstasy were found in a sample Baxter gave during a routine visit from drug-testers to the Sheffield United training ground on May 7.
The Football Association gave him a five-month ban, three of them suspended, and he can resume his career immediately.
He will play in Sheffield United’s first league game of the season against Gillingham on August 8.
Baxter says his drink was spiked after he went to Wembley with three friends to watch Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa, and then enjoyed a night out in London.
“The following Wednesday, the drug-testers came into training,” Baxter told the Mail. “Obviously there was a lot of banter between the lads, ‘Ooh, who’s scared?’, and all that. Everyone just joking about.
“My name got pulled out of the hat, I didn’t think anything of it. I trained as normal, trained very well actually, and then did my test.
“Three weeks later, I was sitting in my flat waiting for our play-off semi-final and got a call from the assistant manager Gary Crosby. He asked if I could get in early so I went. I thought it might be to do with a tactical change for the game but when I got in, the gaffer (Nigel Clough) said I’d failed a drug test. It was absolutely shocking.”
Baxter was interviewed at the FA by various doctors, counsellors and psychiatrists who wanted to see if he had a drugs problem. He said he also spoke to those with him on the night in question when he visited three different bars and a nightclub.
“I asked my mates if I was acting weird at any time but they said no.
“For me it was a normal night. I got a bit drunk but that’s it. The only thing is I was a bit dehydrated the next morning, and drank a bottle of water as soon as I got up.
“I ended up asking about everyone who was out with us that night. ‘Is he all right, your mate?’ In the end would anyone admit it was them?”
Baxter will not have to sit out the start of the new season with United.
“I would like to think the FA believed me. They obviously do character references, people out there who would vouch I am not a party animal. I am not that type, I shout at my mum when she has a ciggy with her drink.
“The chief executive at Sheffield United gave me a reference, which was very kind and something he didn’t have to do.
“I went to see a doctor, everyone in my position has to in case you are on drugs and need help. After 10 minutes of being in there, he sent me out and wrote a great letter about me, saying he didn’t think I am on drugs or had used them before.”
Baxter said that he now makes sure he keeps his drink in view. “I finish my drink before I go to the loo or take it with me.”
“Not that I’ve felt like touching alcohol all summer. I went to Dubai and Miami over the summer with my girlfriend and our parents, and hardly touched a drop.”
The 23-year-old said he that he feel he has been given a second chance.
“Nigel Clough sent me a text wishing me the best of luck. I won’t forget things like that.
“It turned out to be the worst weekend of my life. Liverpool lost the semi and I nearly lost my career. A drug was found in my system, which I am guilty for. But I am not guilty of taking it.”