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Chioma Ubogagu: Tottenham striker returns after a 9 month anti-doping ban

Saturday the 22nd of October 2022 marked the much anticipated return of former England striker, Chioma Ubogagu. Ubogagu came on in the 87th minute, replacing Ashleigh Neville in their 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

Ubogagu signed for Spurs in July 2021, on a two-year contract, from CD Tacón. She has spent much of her playing career in numerous countries, representing some of the biggest clubs in their respective leagues: Arsenal, Houston Dash, Orlando Pride, Brisbane Roar, CD Tacón (now known as Real Madrid) and Tottenham Hotspur.

Ubogagu was born in London to Nigeran parents and moved to the States when she was three years old. Despite representing USA at youth level, she made her England senior debut in November 2018, scoring in a 3-0 win over Austria.

Ubogagu's playing career came under threat when in October 2021, Ubogagu discovered that some anti-acne medication she was prescribed in the US, contained a substance that was banned in the UK.

The anti-acne medication prescribed to her contained Canrenone. Canrenone is banned in the UK, and despite not being a performance enhancing drug, it is listed as a diuretic, meaning it can be used to mask other banned substances.

Ubogagu and the Spurs medical team applied for TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) from UK Anti-Doping, but this was rejected. In January 2022, she received the provisional suspension from The FA. The suspension meant that she was unable to train, play matches and even be vicinity of the club.

The ban was subsequently reduced to 9 months, from the original possible sentence of 2 to 4 years. This gave Ubogagu renewed hope that she was going to be able to continue her playing career.

In a statement released by The FA, they confirmed that they accept Ubogagu had taken the substance unintentionally, “The FA fairly and correctly accepts that the Player did not commit the ADRV intentionally in the sense of someone who was knowingly cheating or somehow trying to secure an illegal advantage.”

Writing for Players’ Turbine, Ubogagu added, “I’m not here to blame anyone for doing their job. I take full responsibility for what happened, but I wanted to write this for two reasons: So that you know what really happened from my side and just in case my story can help even one athlete out there in a similar situation. The law is black and white, but the reality is far more complex.”

This situation has sparked other players and clubs to think more carefully and research further any medication they are taking or putting into their body, no matter the intention.

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