Top 12 Popular Football Players Steroid Scandals

Athletes using performance-enhancing drugs is no new news. There have been cases of substance abuse and steroid use in every sport.

The soccer world, too, is not aloof from such scandals. There have been some big ones related to drugs and substance abuse that broke the news headline worldwide.

The biggest football legend Maradona, Adrian Mutu, shocked the whole soccer world. Similarly, there have been many such scandals.

Sergio Ramos & Antonio Di Natale (Source:

Join us as we are looking at some of the biggest steroid scandals related to popular football players. The scandals not only banned them from sports for the time being but also stained their reputation forever.

Unfortunate but let us look at some of the steroids scandals in football together, shall we?

Top 12 Popular Football Players Steroids Scandal

The list has been compiled with the help of various sources from the internet like Bleacherreport, YouTube, etc. But, let us look at the table below, before we go through all the details.

Players NameCountry
12. Kolo ToureIvory Coast
11. Abel XavierPortugal
10. Sergio RamosSpain
9. Mark BosnichAustralia
8. Willie JohnstonScottland
7. Claudio CaniggiaArgentina
6. Fabio CannavaroItaly
5. Pep GuardiolaSpain
4. Andre OnanaCameroon
3. Samir NasriFrance
2. Diego MaradonaArgentina
1. Adrian MutuRomania

12. Kolo Toure

Kolo Toure is an Ivorian player who joined the Premier League in 2002. After a short trial, Arsenal signed him on a long-term contract worth £150,000.

After earning two English League and cup titles with the team, in 2009, Manchester City signed Toure. Then in 2011, he had failed a drug test.

Kolo Toure (Source:

Toure tested positive for a prohibited substance and was banned for six months. He had been taking water tablets of his wife to lose weight.

After his failed drug test, Toure became the first Manchester City footballer after Andrain Mutu to be banned at a Premier League Club.

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11. Abel Xavier

The next footballer on our list of football players’ steroids scandal is the former Portuguese footballer Abel Xavier. He played his debut in the Portuguese top division with Estrela da Amadora.

Everton signed Xavier, and his English Premier League debut was in 1999. After this, in 2002, Liverpool signed him. But at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, he was without a club.

Middlesbrough signed the player, and later the same year, following the UEFA Cup tie, he was tested for drugs. Unfortunately, Xavier failed the test. In November of 2005, he tested positive for using a banned substance.

Abel Xavier
Abel Xavier (Source: Instagram)

Xavier had been using the anabolic steroid methandrostenolone, also known as Dianabol. The use of the performance-enhancing drug led him to be banned from professional football for 18 months.

Although few other players also failed the test for recreational substances, Xavier became the first Premier League player found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs.

10. Sergio Ramos

A Spanish footballer Sergio Ramos is our number 10 of football players steroids scandal. Ramos is considered one of the most incredible defenders of all time; however, even this great defender could not escape the steroid scandal.

Soon after the 2017 Champions League final, Ramos was accused of failing a drug test. He supposedly took two hours to provide a urine sample. However, his sample contained anti-inflammatory cortisone dexamethasone.

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos

The anti-inflammatory substance is on the banned list of the World Anti-Doping Agency. But Ramos’ paperwork had no mention of the substance.

Therefore, he escaped sanctions which could have led him to some serious hot water. Moreover, at the time, Ramos was signed to Real Madrid, and the club denied any wrongdoings.

9. Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich is another player from Chelseas who suffered from a drugs scandal. Bosnich is a former professional football player and sports pundit.

Manchester United signed Bosnich and brought him to England in 1988. However, he had come to England under a student visa and had to return. Then in 1992, Aston Villa brought him back.

While under the contract with Chelsea in 2002, Bosnich, unfortunately, developed a cocaine addiction. Moreover, he has become reclusive and took upto 10g of cocaine per day. He was handed a nine-month ban from playing professionally after failing the test.

Mark Bosnich
Mark Bosnich (Source: Instagram)

Under the influence of the substance, he once almost shot his father with an air rifle, mistaking him for an intruder. After this, his father convinced Bosnich to quit his addiction.

The player himself admitted his expensive cocaine habit. Although he did make a comeback, Bosnich’s career was no longer the same.

8. Willie Johnston

On our number 8 of the football players’ steroids scandal is Willie Johnston. This scandal is one of the biggest ones in the football world as Johnston failed a drug test during the 1978 World Cup finals.

He is a former Scottish footballer who made 22 appearances for Scotland. Johnston is well-known for his quickness and skill, but he is also well-known for his short temper.

Willie Johnston
Willie Johnston (Source: Instagram)

The soccder player tested positive for the banned stimulant in reactivan, his hayfever prescription medication. The drug test was conducted before the opening game against Peru in the 1978 World Cup.

Johnston returned home, and consequently, his international career ended there. At the time, Johnston’s case disgraced not only him but also Scotland.

7. Claudio Caniggia

The next footballer on our list is a former Argentine professional footballer, Claudio Caniggia. He was a close friend of Maradona and represented his country in three World Cups.

Caniggia was well-known for his speed on the field and rockstar lifestyle. He could run at a hundred miles an hour, passing defender, and was one of the prominent players of Argentina.

Claudio Caniggia
Claudio Caniggia (Source: Instagram)

Then came the scandal in the 1994 World Cup. Caniggia’s urine sample contained traces of cocaine. His close friend Maradona tested positive for the same drug two years earlier.

A month-long investigation led to him getting 13 months ban by Serie A’s Disciplinary Commission. Although he returned to the game, the scandal tarnished his reputation forever.

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6. Fabio Cannavaro

We have made it halfway to our list, and on our number 6 football player steroids scandal is former Italian player Fabio Cannavaro. The Italian player is regarded as one of the best defenders of all time and Italy’s most capped defender.

In the 1999 UEFA Cup Final, a video taper where Cannavaro was injecting with a substance, neoton, was leaked. However, there was no punishment or action.

But in 2009, while he was part of the Juventus club, he failed the drug test. The banned substance cortisone was found in his system. Cannavaro had sought an exemption, allegedly taking medication for a wasp sting.

Fabio Cannavaro
Fabio Cannavaro (Source: Instagram)

However, his drug testing came back positive. The club also claimed that Cannavaro only took an anti-allergy medicine. Later the charges were dropped against him.

Although he has achieved a lot of wins and titles, Cannavaro’s reputation will forever be associated with these scandals.

5. Pep Guardiola

Regarded as one of the most amazing players and football coaches, Pep Guardiola also was under hot water in his playing career. The Spanish player had failed his drug test.

In 2001, Guardiola tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. He became the second high-profile Italian player to fail the drug test when the news broke.

Pep Guardiola during his playing career
Pep Guardiola during his playing career (Source:

Many fellow players defended him, and Guardiola himself maintained his innocence. Nevertheless, he was banned for four months. A court in Brescia had even handed him a seven-month suspended jail sentence.

But after a successful appeal, Guardiola was cleared of all charges six years later. After that, however, the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) again reopened the case. Again in 2009, he was cleared of all charges.

4. Andre Onana

Our number 4 football players steroid scandal is the most recent case of the steroid scandal. Andre Onana is a Cameroonian professional football player playing for the Eredivise club Ajax.

Onana is one of the best youngsters in the football world. He made his debut in 2016 and was having an excellent run before he was found violating the anti-doping rules.

In February 2021, his drug test came back positive for Furosemide. Onana had been taking medicine prescribed for his wife’s headache. UEFA then banned him for 12 months following the result.

Andre Onana
Andre Onana (Source: Instagram)

This was a terrible blow for Onana and potentially harmed his chances of moving to a big European club. However, his club Ajax challenged the suspension of UEFA.

Subsequently, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced Onana’s ban to nine months.

3. Samir Nasri

Next up, we have a French footballer steroid scandal. Again, Samir Nasri was one of the players climbing the ranks of the best players. His skills even drew comparisons to former French player Zinedine Zidane.

Nasri played for Olympique de Marseille and Arsenal before Manchester City signed him. Then in 2016, a Los Angeles clinic, Drip Doctors, posted his photo on Facebook, providing him with a drip.

Samir Nasri Euro 2012 (Source: Instagram)

The Facebook post led to disciplinary proceedings, and Nasri was found guilty of overuse of drip treatment in the United States in 2017. He had been violating the World Anti-Doping Code and UEFA’s anti-doping regulation since 2016.

As a result, Nasri was suspended from playing for six months, but that was extended to eighteen months ban in 2018. The scandal ruined his career, and in 2021, he announced his retirement from the sport.

2. Diego Maradona

Now the case of Diego Maradona is an infamous one. A legendary figure in the football world, his habit of using cocaine and other drugs made huge headlines many times.

Maradona struggled with drugs in his playing career. While the Argentine player was at the height of his career, he allegedly began doing cocaine.

He had started doing drugs while playing for Barcelona in 1983. The use of drugs affected his playing career greatly. In 1991, Maradona tested positive for cocaine. Consequently, he was banned for 15 months and fined $70,000.

Maradona lifting 1974 World Cup
Maradona lifting 1974 World Cup

After his banned lifted, he made his comeback. But it wasn’t long before he would fall back to his habit of abusing substances.

Maradona was in the Argentine team for the 1994 World Cup. However, he failed his dop test again and tested positive for five variants of banned stimulant ephedrine. As a result, FIFA banned him for 15 months, and the Argentine FA ended his international career.

Although Maradona actively played domestic football, in 1997, he again failed the drug test. As a result, his playing career ended. Therefore he is second on our list of top football players’ steroids scandals.

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1. Adrian Mutu

Here we are, on our number 1. The biggest football player’s steroids scandal was of Adrian Mutu. He is a Romanian former footballer who played the attacking midfielder or a forward.

During his playing career, Mutu was one of the players climbing the top ranks. However, while he played as Chelsea’s striker, he was found guilty of using cocaine.

The scandal was just the first instance that the Romanian player got into. This led him to a seven-month ban and ending his career with Chelsea. In addition, the FA fined him £20,000 while Chelsea sought compensation for the contract breach.

Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu (Source: Instagram)

However, Mutu was able to get back to the sport. But unfortunately, again, in 2010, he failed his anti-doping test. He was playing for the Fiorentina at the moment, and this time, he tested positive for sibutramine.

Mutu was banned for nine months, and Fiorentina suspended him for breach of contract. He again came back, but his reputation is forever tainted as one of the popular football players’ steroids scandals.


This concludes our list of the top popular football players’ steroids scandals. These players were all at the height of their careers and had much potential before falling down the dark path.

While some of the players recuperated from their fall, some of their careers ended.

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