Berahino served drug ban while at West Brom

Saido Berahino, who may make his full Stoke debut against former club West Brom, sat out nearly six months without playing a competitive game.
Saido Berahino, who may make his full Stoke debut against former club West Brom, sat out nearly six months without playing a competitive game.

LONDON • Stoke manager Mark Hughes has confirmed that Saido Berahino served a suspension before he joined the English Premier League football club.

The Daily Mail reported on Thursday that the striker, who joined the club for £12 million (S$21.2 million) last month, tested positive for a recreational drug during his time at West Brom.

"We are aware of it clearly - there was an FA disciplinary matter and Saido had an eight-week suspension, I believe," said Hughes yesterday. "In terms of more detail, you would probably need to refer back to his former club.

"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."

Tony Pulis, the West Brom manager, also confirmed the ban yesterday. He said: "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."

The Football Association has declined to comment on the matter.

Under the FA's anti-doping policy, players found guilty of recreational drug use are not named publicly. Instead, they are offered private rehabilitation in the hope of enabling them to "return clean without being stigmatised".

Last November, Berahino admitted struggling for focus in the previous 12 months, describing himself as having been "in turmoil".

The player said: "This last year has been the most difficult of my career and it has left me short of the form and fitness required for the Premier League. I have never been a player who lacked confidence or a belief in himself but that has been where I have found myself and it has hit me hard."

Berahino did not play any competitive football between West Brom's league game at Bournemouth on Sept 10 and making his Stoke debut in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Everton.

He could now make his second appearance for Stoke against his old club at the Hawthorns today.

"Why wouldn't I play him? He is in line to be involved," said Hughes. "He came on to good effect on Wednesday and there is no reason why he shouldn't be involved."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Berahino served drug ban while at West Brom'. Print Edition | Subscribe