Players union pledges help for gay footballers
21:44 GMT, 15 September 2012
Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, has told Inside Sport that the first English footballer to reveal that he is gay can expect to receive a commercial windfall from doing so.
But Carlisle, aware of the lingering homophobia within sections of the game, warns that the PFA could not guarantee that it would be a trouble-free time for the player.
No professional in the English game has come out since Justin Fashanu, who committed suicide in 1998.
Support: Clarke Carlisle said players will be backed
Carlisle says the PFA have given advice to eight gay players and have assured them of PFA support if they decide to make their sexuality public.
'We feel the industry has changed and that society has changed and is less homophobic, and they will get all the support they need from the PFA,' said Carlisle.
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'But we cannot guarantee to them there won't be a negative reaction if they come out. Something we cannot deny is that the first player to do it will attract mass media intrusion and I think that's what is intimidating – that everything in your life, your family, your relationships, will be under scrutiny.
'Actually, there might well be substantial benefits and commercial opportunities for the first person to do it. That's just a reality, too. But any player considering coming out would need to weigh all this up, particularly the immediate intrusion into their lives.'
Carlisle believes a player might take the step 'reasonably soon', but will not put a time frame on it.
'Even if we as a sport want to be inclusive and against homophobia, which we do, we are in a quandary,' he said.
'We cannot and never will “out” a player, we can only try to create an atmosphere in which they can come out.
'The only point of reference for any of the players who are considering this is Justin Fashanu – and his story is a tragedy.'
Andy, but not Murray
Andy Murray may have won the US Open but an invitation to join the prestigious All England Club at Wimbledon is likely to come sooner to American Andy Roddick than to Britain's No 1.
Next Andy Roddick could be invited to be part of the All England Club
The word in tennis is that Roddick, 30, and just retired, may now be invited to become a member of the elite club, which is normally open only to Wimbledon champions and hand-picked invitees.
Roddick, popular with the SW19 crowds, was a runner-up to Roger Federer three times and may now join other multiple runners-up Ken Rosewall and Ivan Lendl (now Murray's coach) as All England members.
Fury as drug cover-up boss is given new job in rugby
A rugby chief executive who was banned from his sport for two years for his pivotal role in a drugs coverup has provoked outrage by being allowed to return to work nine months before his ban has ended.
James Rule was CEO of Hull rugby league club when a group of his players took a banned performance enhancing substance, MHA, which was an ingredient in supplements that had not been properly checked.
Rule was instrumental in the lies told to try to get lenient treatment for one of his players, former Great Britain international Martin Gleeson, after he failed a drugs test.
He was banned for two years for his role in the plot and Gleeson, who admitted his part and helped the authorities catch others involved, got a reduced ban of 18 months.
Last week Rule was appointed chief executive at Widnes and claimed that as he would not be working directly with the players he was not in breach of his ban.
Controversy: Many say James Rule should not be involved at any level
But insiders at UK AntiDoping, the agency leading the fight against drugs in British sport, are embarrassed that Rule can go back to work, believing it makes a mockery of his ban, which UKAD had hailed as a landmark because it punished a corrupt administrator, not an athlete.
UKAD chief Andy Parkinson said: 'UK AntiDoping will continue to ensure [the terms of Rule's ban] are complied with.'
Gleeson, whose own ban still has eight weeks to run, told me: 'I find it very odd that James Rule can go back to work running a club when I'm not allowed near the sport I love. 'I cannot even get a trial or play training games until my ban is up. It's not a level playing field.'
The substance in the Hull case, MHA, has just been banned from all supplements by the government's drugs agency because it has been deemed a risk to public safety.
Football drugs shame
Four footballers in the English game have failed drugs tests and served secret bans since January 2010, Inside Sport can reveal.
No details of the cases have yet been made public because of an administrative blunder between UKAD and the Football Association.
UKAD stopped publishing anonymous details of failed tests in early 2010 but the FA say they were unaware of this, so did not make the information public themselves. Three of the players failed tests after smoking cannabis, while the fourth was found to have taken cocaine.
Failed tests: Three footballers tested positive for cannabis
Three of the players were trainees and the fourth a professional first-teamer. All four served bans.
Further details, including the identity of their clubs, remain confidential and the FA are expected to make a brief statement about the cases on Sunday.
All the players were caught as part of 'recreational' screening by the FA.
They are not obliged to test for 'social' drugs but do so to help keep the game clean. And four cases in 30 months actually represents a steep decline in positive findings, suggesting FA anti-drugs initiatives may be working.