Kolo Toure handed six-month ban for failed drugs test
Ivory Coast international Toure joined Manchester City in 2009
Manchester City defender Kolo Toure will miss the start of next season after being handed a six-month ban from all football for failing a drugs test.
The ban is back-dated to 2 March, when Toure's provisional suspension began.
He is free to play from 2 September, but will also be target-tested for a period of two years from 26 May.
"This has been a difficult period, and I am sad to have missed the team's triumph of securing Champions League football and the FA Cup," Toure said.
"But I am relieved that I will be able to return to football in September and thank the FA's commission for their understanding."
An independent regulatory commission, which could have issued anything from a warning to a two-year ban by way of punishment, reached the verdict after a hearing on Thursday.
Toure 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.
On 4 March, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger - who brought Toure to England by signing him - revealed: "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.
"He is a boy that has a clean life, a very honest living. I just think it is a mistake."
Headed up by Christopher Quinlan QC, the commission were satisfied Toure did not intend to enhance sporting performance or to mask the use of a performance-enhancing substance.
Man City's QC Adam Lewis suggested the ban should be no longer than three months but the FA commission 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 2 March 2011."
The ruling means he cannot participate in any football match or any other football-related activity other than anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes, until his ban expires.
The decision completes a nightmare season for Toure, which began with him losing the Manchester City captaincy to Carlos Tevez on 18 August.
Toure was tested at the Manchester derby in February, when he was an unused substitute. The Ivory Coast defender was suspended on 3 March after his A-sample tested positive for "a specified substance".
Toure is under contract with City until the summer of 2013. He was one of several high-profile arrivals in the summer of 2009 as then-manager Mark Hughes spent more than £100m on new players.
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