Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has all-but confirmed that Saido Berahino served a drug ban during his prolonged period of inactivity at former club West Brom.
Matt Lawton in the Daily Mail had earlier broken the story that Berahino tested positive for a recreational substance after undergoing an “out-of-competition test in September.”
Sportsmail believes Berahino claimed there were extenuating circumstances around the positive test and Stoke were made aware of the situation prior to the 23-year-old completing his move to Stoke.
Hughes has since confirmed that the Potters were aware of an eight-week suspension being served, though refused to go into any further detail when speaking to the press on Friday morning:
We are aware of it clearly – there was an disciplinary matter and Saido had an eight week suspension, I believe.
We were aware of that before we signed him. In terms of more detail you would probably need to refer back to his former club, West Brom.
We aren’t in a position to give any more details as we don’t have them. He had issues at his previous club for 18 months, which this is obviously a part of.
As with all players we did our research on him before we signed him, but that didn’t change our thinking at all.
We are pleased with what he is producing and he is looking forward to the game tomorrow.
That game, rather ironically, being an away trip to face West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Tony Pulis was also asked to comment on the Mail report, though the Baggies boss refused to be drawn:
Saido served a ban while he was here but I won’t comment why.
He didn’t play for me because he wasn’t fit enough.
For the record, a positive test for a recreational drug ‘outside of competition’ is not seen as a breach of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, so the ban is likely to have been handed down by the FA.
Also, the FA employ a policy of not naming and shaming players with positive ‘recreational’ tests, instead offering them private rehabilitation and advice.