MX23RW : Sunday, December 9 22:20:12

On this day: Pep Guardiola fails second drug test

Thirteen years ago today, Pep Guardiola tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone for a second time.

When Pep Guardiola walks away from football, he will be remembered as one of the most cultured and talented player-turned-managers to have ever graced the game.

Yet, back in 2001, something occurred that threatened to leave Guardiola's reputation in tatters.

Following 11 largely successful years as a player with Barcelona, the holding midfielder was keen to try his hand abroad. He eventually settled on a switch to Brescia, where he would replace AC Milan-bound Andrea Pirlo.

Despite his undoubted ability, Guardiola failed to adapt to life in Serie A. Yet, on this day 13 years ago, he was hit by an even bigger suckerpunch.

It was confirmed that following a 5-0 defeat to Lazio, the 30-year-old had tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. There had also been a trace of the substance in his system following a game against Piacenza a fortnight earlier.

A number of well-known players, including Edgar Davids and Jaap Stam, also provided positive tests at the turn of the century and like Guardiola protested their innocence.

Guardiola certainly had some high-profile people that were willing to defend him, including Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro, who said: "I believe in his innocence and his honesty as a sportsman."

Nevertheless, he was banned from football for four months and on appeal in 2005, Guardiola was actually handed a seven-month suspended jail sentence by a court in Brescia.

Even after his retirement, Guardiola, along with his close friend and former water polo player Manuel Estiarte, continued to fight the verdict.

It was in 2007 that Estiarte discovered changes in the World Anti-Doping Agency's guidelines, which stated that some athletes naturally generated a certain amount of nandrolone - something that Guardiola's legal team had insisted was the case ever since the failed tests.

So, it was in the October of that year when in charge of Barcelona B that the Brescia Court of Appeal exonerated Guardiola of all charges.


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Xavi in action for Spain during the World Cup final on July 11, 2010.
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