Former Sheffield United winger served three-month ban for cocaine use

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A former Sheffield United loanee served a three-month ban for cocaine use last year, the Football Association has said.

Ex-Portsmouth and Wolves winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who was at Bramall Lane in 2011, was slapped with the suspension after failing a drugs test on July 4, 2020.

Cardiff City sacked Mendez-Laing in September for what they called an ‘alleged breach of contract'.

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The FA confirmed in a statement that the 28-year-old – who made eight appearances and scored one goal for Blades while on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers – tested positive for the banned substance which was used ‘in a context unrelated to sporting performance’.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (left) made eight appearances for Sheffield United.Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (left) made eight appearances for Sheffield United.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (left) made eight appearances for Sheffield United.

A statement read: ‘Cocaine is classified as a prohibited substance in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), therefore Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was charged by The FA for a breach of its Anti-Doping Regulations and provisionally suspended on 14 August 2020.

‘Nathaniel Mendez-Laing admitted the charge but was able to explain that the substance had been ingested out-of-competition in a context that was unrelated to sporting performance. An independent Regulatory Commission was subsequently convened to decide an appropriate sanction and, in line with the revised 2021 WADA Code that permits reduced sanctions for ‘Substances of Abuse’, applied a back-dated three-month suspension from 14 August 2020.

‘The FA does not disclose details in relation to breaches of its Anti-Doping Regulations until all processes and appeal windows have concluded. As such, the independent Regulatory Commission’s written reasons for this sanction can also now be found below.’

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Mendez-Laing has recently signed for Middlesbrough after having his contract ripped up by Cardiff.

He reunites with Neil Warnock, having won promotion to the Premier League together in south Wales in 2018.

In a statement released to the BBC, Mendez-Laing said: ‘With the help of my family, close friends, my agent, and the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association) during this extremely difficult time, I have been able to overcome my personal hurdles, to focus, and invest my time in working hard, determined to return to football.

‘I appreciate all the support I have been given throughout. I now want to leave that period of my life in the past where it belongs.

‘I'm excited about the future and delighted to be back doing what I love.’