London: England's Football Association has defended its anti-doping policy following claims in a television programme that it attempted to play down cases of players who had tested positive for banned drugs.
The claims were made on Monday in a Channel Four 'Dispatches' programme, which revealed names of several players who have failed drugs tests for cocaine.
It highlighted the case of Scottish international Garry O'Connor, who is accused of failing a drugs test while at Birmingham City and being allowed to serve a secret two-month ban during the 2009-2010 season.
When asked to comment on the case, Birmingham declined to comment.
The FA's policy is to protect the privacy of players who fail tests for social drugs out of competition, although punishments of up to six months for first-time offenders can be handed out.
The FA also stresses there is no requirement on them to identify those who have failed tests for recreational drugs away from game time.
When it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, the player is named, whether they are tested in or out of competition.
In a statement, the FA said: "The FA operates a comprehensive anti-doping programme which is the largest of any sport in the UK."
"The FA prohibits all the doping offences listed in the World Anti-Doping Agency code and applies all the sanctions laid down in the code for those offences."
David Howman, director general of the World Anti Doping Agency, believes the FA should consider making their anti-doping programme more transparent by naming all players who are found to have used banned drugs.
He told the Daily Telegraph: "When sports people get involved with substances that are ordinarily part of a criminal justice programme, what is so special about sport that it ought not to come into the public arena?"
"There will of course be times when revealing a player's identity might seriously compromise his rehabilitation, particularly if he has a serious drug addiction or a medical condition. I accept the need for confidentiality in such cases."
"But in such a circumstance, why not announce the positive drug test, then publish a statement explaining why the player has not been named? If you are going to withhold a player's identity, then you should at least provide the justification."