Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

McLaren Standing by Xavier

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

McLaren Standing by Xavier

Article excerpt

Byline: By Damian Spellman

Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren has thrown his weight behind defender Abel Xavier's bid to clear his name after failing a drugs test.

The 32-year-old full-back will have his B-sample analysed next week after his A-sample tested positive for a banned, but as yet unnamed, substance following his side's 0-0 Uefa Cup draw with Skoda Xanthi in Greece last month.

He protested his innocence in a statement issued through his lawyers, and McClaren revealed as he prepared for tonight's European clash with Grasshoppers in Switzerland that he is firmly in the Portuguese international's corner.

"He is protesting his innocence vehemently at the moment," he said. "I have spoken to him today and he's in fairly good spirits.

"He's putting a case together with his lawyer and the results will be hopefully early next week.

"At the moment, Abel is fighting his case elsewhere, hopefully it's positive. Next week, we will have the results and something more positive.

"But the players in the meantime will just get on with it and it's an opportunity for other players to come in and do the job. There's nothing we can do and we will just get on with it."

Reports suggested Xavier had flown back to Portugal to undergo a series of tests, but McClaren revealed that is not the case.

"He's elsewhere in Europe and doesn't want to reveal where he is for obvious reasons," he said.

The news of the failed test, which emerged on Monday evening, has cast a shadow over Boro's preparations for their first game in the group stage of this season's Uefa Cup at the Hardturm Stadium, although McClaren is adamant it has not been a distraction.

"Unfortunately ( and we do apologise to people ( we had to keep it quiet in and around the game on Saturday because we did not want any disruption, but no, it's not been a distraction," he said. …

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