Mendez-Laing signed for Middlesbrough at the beginning of February and could make his debut against Derby on Saturday; he told Sky Sports that he now wants to “focus and invest my time in working hard, determined to return to football”
Middlesbrough’s Nathaniel Mendez-Laing has served a three-month ban after failing a drug test for cocaine at the end of last season, the FA has confirmed.
The failed test occurred on July 4, 2020, the day of Cardiff City’s 1-0 win over Bristol City in the Championship, which Mendez-Laing started and played for 66 minutes.
The winger went on to play another six matches for Cardiff at the end of last season to help them reach the play-offs, and played in both legs of their semi-final defeat by Fulham.
Mendez-Laing was sacked by Cardiff on the eve of the 2020/21 season for what was described as a “serious breach of contract” by then-manager Neil Harris, before signing for Middlesbrough as a free agent on Transfer Deadline Day.
It has now been confirmed by the FA that the winger has been serving a drug ban since August 14: “The FA has today published details in relation to a breach of its Anti-Doping Regulations by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
“The Middlesbrough FC player provided an in-competition urine sample to the FA via UK Anti-Doping officials on 04 July 2020 while playing for Cardiff City FC and it was found to contain metabolites of cocaine once subsequently analysed.
“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 August 14 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 August 14 2020.”SAS GEO ERRORThis video is not authorized in your locationRELOAD YOUR SCREEN OR TRY SELECTING A DIFFERENT VIDEOHighlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Brentford
On January 1, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reduced the sentence for recreational drug use to a maximum three-month ban, compared to a punishment of two to four years for performance-enhancing drugs.
Mendez-Laing has given the following statement to Sky Sports News: “With the help of my family, close friends, my agent, and the PFA 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.”