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Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 15:00 UK

Goalkeeper Kenny fails drugs test

Paddy Kenny
Kenny will have to wait to discover his fate after his test returned positive

Sheffield United have suspended keeper Paddy Kenny for failing a drugs test.

Kenny tested positive for a banned substance, ephedrine, following last season's Championship play-off semi-final second leg against Preston.

Ephedrine is believed to be present in a cough mixture that the Republic of Ireland player bought over the counter, BBC Radio Sheffield understands.

"We confirm Paddy has been suspended. This is an ongoing, confidential matter," read a club statement.

The 31-year-old will now be subject to a disciplinary inquiry by the Football Association and faces a range of possible sanctions - from a reprimand up to a two-year ban.

The FA and UK Sport - the agency responsible for drug testing programmes in sport - have so far refused to comment.

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said Kenny will be given the opportunity to explain himself at a tribunal, which will decide if a punishment is deserved, and if so, of what duration.

"They can impose anything from a warning to a two-year ban. It's going to come down to whether the science backs up Kenny's claim that this was nothing more sinister than a bit of cough medicine," said Farquhar.

I hope it's looked upon as a genuine mistake and he only receives a minimum ban

Former Blades boss Neil Warnock

"The labs will be able to tell if this ephedrine has come from an over-the-counter remedy and whether the amount of it in his system tallies with his account of how much he says he's taken."

Ephedrine is on the list of the World Anti-Doping Agency's specified substances but is contained in some cold cures and a positive test does not carry the usual automatic two-year suspension.

It is a powerful stimulant; it increases metabolism and alertness; it can aid rapid weight loss and, above a certain limit, it is considered performance enhancing.

Since 2007, however, four rugby players - two from rugby union and two from rugby league - have all been served with two-year bans after testing positive for ephedrine.

In three of those cases, the players involved took ephedrine tablets before a match, while in the fourth case the source of the stimulant was unclear.

In order to minimise his punishment, Kenny will have to attempt to prove that he did not take the drug in order to enhance his performance.

Ex-Blades boss Neil Warnock said he was shocked by the news but said his former goalkeeper would not have taken anything deliberately.

"Anybody who knows Paddy will tell you he wouldn't have done this deliberately," Warnock told BBC Radio Sheffield.

"He's a smashing lad but can be a bit daft and because of that he can get himself into situations and unfortunately this could be the biggest of the lot.

"There does seem to be a feeling that the FA will be looking to make an example of somebody but I hope it's looked upon as a genuine mistake and he only receives a minimum ban.

"He is definitely not a cheat."

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see also
Blackwell begins reshaping Blades
28 May 09 |  Sheff Utd
Blades put Kenny on transfer list
29 Dec 08 |  Sheff Utd
Kenny to be offered new contract
30 Oct 08 |  Sheff Utd

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