5 High Profile Footballers Who Were Caught Doing PEDs

The essence of sport is to have human beings of all sizes, shapes, genetics and athletic dispositions compete against one another on an even playing field.

I repeat. An even playing field.

This is of paramount importance at the highest level of professional sport, especially when obscene amounts of money hinge on results of matches.

That is why drug testing came into practice. Athletes, though generally well intentioned, do end up partaking in performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to gain an unfair edge at times and that simply won't do.

Over the years, drug testing has outed such athletes who introduce banned substances into their system and surprisingly, some high profile ones at that too.

This list is a look back at some of those names.

You'd probably know that Maradona was one of them. But did you know about the others?

5. Deco

The former Chelsea  and Barcelona  man was caught for a banned substance, furosemide, in his blood at the time when he was about to call it a day on his footballing career.

He was then plying his trade for Fluminense in Brazil and was already 35 years old. Furosemide is a diuretic which is used as a masking agent for other testosterone boosting substances and is considered a red flag when found in someone's system.

However, luckily for the Portuguese playmaker, his ban would only come into effect after he had retired meaning that he never really did get affected by it.

4. Abel Xavier

The flamboyant Abel Xavier , who turned out for clubs like Liverpool and Everton, was banned for the presence of an anabolic steroid dianabol in his system.

The defender was then playing for former Premier League side Middlesboro and was caught in a routine post match test after the side's UEFA cup tie against Greek side Xanthi.

Xavier protested his innocence stating that a suppliment he had procured from the USA to combat a virus may have been contaminated but the B-sample also confirmed the positive test for the steroid.

He ended up serving an 18 month ban before joining LA Galaxy in July of 2007 and retiring from football a year later.

3. Edgar Davids

Another flamboyant character to make this list is 90s icon Edgar Davids . The midfielder, popularly known for his trademark glasses, was banned for Nandrolone during his Juventus playing days in 2001.

The ban initially enforced was for 16 months but the Dutchman appealed and had it reduced to 4 months.

Despite the ban, Davids enjoyed a stellar career glittered with a Champions League win, multiple Scudettos and Eredivisie titles.

He ended up playing for the whos who of world football including clubs like AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Spurs, Inter Milan and Ajax.

2. Jake Livermore

Once touted to be an up and coming premier prospect for England, Jake Livermore's  career never really took off.

After coming through at Spurs having been loaned out to a number of clubs to aid in his development, Livermore made a move to Hull City to play under Steve Bruce.

In 2015 though, he was flagged for cocaine being found in his blood stream and was set to receive the maximum sentence of a 2 year ban from the FA, as pertaining to a class A drug.

However, it was later established that Livermore was suffering from severe depression following the death of his baby in 2014 and the drug use was tied in to that.

With those extenuating circumstances in mind, the FA sanctioned his immediate return to football.

Livermore now plies his trade for West Brom.

1. Diego Maradona

Aaand the one we've all come here to read about.

Diego Maradona  was equal parts marverick, genuis, football bad boy and, quite simply put, a drug addict.

As much as he used to bedazzle everyone with his outrageous mastery over the football, Maradona also used to color outside the lines in his personal life.

He didn't just get banned for drugs once - he managed to do so twice. And considering he was one of the greatest players ever, that's a scar on the face of football.

The first time was in 1991, when he was still playing for Napoli. The Argentinian was found with cocaine in his bloodwork and duly banned for 15 months.

The second time was a worse transgression, as he was sent home two games into Argentina's 1994 World Cup campaign after testing of his blood unearthed traces of ephedrine, another banned substance.

We generally look past those mishaps and still rate Maradona as one of the game's greatest ever.

But there always lingers a question if he was ever a clean athlete in the first place.