Professional footballer escapes ban for positive cocaine test

Jake Livermore
Jake Livermore

Hull midfielder Jake Livermore will face no punishment after testing positive for cocaine, the Football Association has announced.

Livermore, 25, admitted a breach of the FA's anti-doping regulations, but revealed at an independent regulatory commission hearing last week that the death of his new-born son Jake Junior in May 2014 had had a significant impact on him.

In its written reasons, published on Thursday, the commission ruled that the offence "only occurred as a result of the severe impairment of Mr Livermore's cognitive functions and judgment caused by the circumstances for which he was in no way at fault".

Former Tottenham midfielder Livermore, who is understood to have returned to training with his club, was charged after failing a drugs test after the Tigers' 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory at Crystal Palace on April 25.

He was notified on May 13 having played in three more games, and was provisionally suspended.

However, at the hearing on September 2, Livermore told the commission how he and his family had been affected by his son's death, backed by the evidence of consultant psychiatrist Dr Philip Hopley. Witness statements including those from his father Kevin, Hull boss Steve Bruce and team-mate Tom Huddlestone, were also considered.

The report, from which much of the sensitive medical evidence has been redacted, said: "The commission found Mr Livermore to be an entirely honest and compelling witness who gave his evidence without exaggeration.

"The tragic death of Jake Junior had a devastating effect upon Mr Livermore, his partner and their families. The commission has the clearest medical evidence as to the effect of this on Mr Livermore's mental health.

"However, the matters set out above do not set out the full extent of the tragedy and the impact upon Mr Livermore."

The commission also accepted that Livermore had not sought to enhance his performance as an athlete by using a banned substance, had tested negative on 10 previous occasions, had never before used recreational drugs and that the incident "only occurred as a result of the severe impairment of Mr Livermore's cognitive functions and judgment caused by the circumstances for which he was in no way at fault".

Livermore could have received a two-year ban for the offence, but given the circumstances, the commission ordered him to undertake a course of rehabilitation and education, and he will be subjected to target testing for a year.

However, it warned that its decision should not be regarded as a precedent.

The report continued: "This decision is not intended to set a precedent. Each case must be considered on its merits and individual facts.

"It will be a very rare case that does not fall within the express sanctions provided under the regulations and the World Anti-doping Code. This case, however, is a very rare case.

"The rules as to whether an ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violation) has been committed are based upon strict liability, and Mr Livermore has admitted the presence of the prohibited substance.

"However, given the circumstances as identified herein and the application of principles of proportionality in what is a very rare case, the commission imposes no period of ineligibility upon Mr Livermore."

Hull confirmed the ban they had imposed upon Livermore has been lifted and promised to continue to support him.

"The club can confirm that an independent commission appointed by the FA have found no fault or negligence against Jake Livermore with regards to his failed drugs test following our game with Crystal Palace in April," said a statement released by the club.

"Jake's suspension at the club has been lifted and given the circumstances surrounding the matter we will look to support Jake as he continues to recover from what has been a difficult period for him and his family.

"Finally, any internal disciplinary measures will be kept confidential and the club will make no statement in respect of whether any internal measures are taken."