Sheffield United’s Baxter free to play on after drugs ban

Sheffield United midfielder Jose Baxter is free to resume his career after the Football Association handed him a five-month ban for failing a drugs test.

Jose Baxter in training with Sheffield United (Blades Sports Photography)

The 23-year-old was suspended by the Blades in May when ‘’traces of a banned substance’’ were found after Baxter underwent FA testing.

He requested a personal hearing, which was held at Wembley last Friday, and the FA has served him a five-month ban, three of which is suspended for two years, effective from when he failed his test.

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Therefore, that two-month live suspension has run its course over the close season and the former Everton midfielder will continue to train with the League One club and be available for their season-opener at Gillingham on August 8.

A club statement read: “Jose Baxter is eligible to start the 2015-16 Sky Bet League One season following the conclusion of his Football Association personal hearing.

“The player maintains that he engaged in no wrongdoing involving any banned substance knowingly, but was found guilty.

“The unexpired period of the ban has been suspended for the next two years, hence being available to Nigel Adkins during pre-season and when the league campaign kicks off in August.”

Baxter has maintained his innocence throughout and claimed his drink had been spiked when ‘’traces of a banned substance’’ were discovered in his system during an out-of-competition test.

Baxter made 48 appearances for the Blades last season, scoring 13 goals, and looks set to be a key figure as new boss Adkins plots a promotion campaign at Bramall Lane.