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PFA pledges to help Josh Yorwerth after his four-year ban for evading drugs test

The 23-year-old was charged by the Football Association in December for intentionally avoiding an anti-doping test in September.

The Professional Footballers' Association has pledged to help former Wales Under-21 defender Josh Yorwerth as he deals with the shock of a four-year ban for evading a drugs test and being sacked by Peterborough.

The 23-year-old from Bridgend, who joined the Sky Bet League One club for an undisclosed fee from Crawley last summer, was charged by the Football Association in December for intentionally avoiding an anti-doping test in September.

Yorwerth told the disciplinary hearing last week that he refused to let the drug-testers into his house because he had taken cocaine the previous weekend and believed a positive test would result in a two-year ban.

A first-time offence for a recreational drug only results in a three-month suspension, while avoiding an anti-doping test is considered to be the same as failing one, which now brings a four-year ban.

And, to compound his error, if he had tested positive for cocaine, the matter would have been dealt with anonymously.

In a statement released to Press Association Sport, the PFA said: "The PFA have been working with Josh Yorwerth over the past few months and will continue to help him overcome a number of personal issues.

"The PFA provides members with a 24/7 counselling telephone helpline. This 'round-the-clock' support is available to all our members past and present."

This followed a similar statement from Peterborough, who have also been working with the player to help him "overcome a number of personal issues", but the four-year ban means his contract "will be terminated".

It also confirmed the FA has given him a four-year ban for admitting to cocaine use and avoiding a test.

"The football club wishes Josh well with his recovery and for his future and hope he continues to get the support he needs from those in a position to help," it added.

For its part, the FA said it could not comment as "this is an ongoing case", which suggests Yorwerth has appealed against the length of his sanction.

It is possible that Yorwerth might be able to reduce his ban slightly by offering to help the PFA or football authorities in their anti-doping education campaigns.

But, with cocaine still listed as a performance-enhancing drug by the World Anti-Doping Agency, too much leniency from the FA would invite the risk of a counter-appeal by UK Anti-Doping.

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Peterborough United's Barry Fry pictured in January 2018
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