17. 10. 2019

Ilsø handed a two-year ban: No Intention of cheating

Ken Ilsø has today been sentenced to a two-year suspension. It is emphasized in the ruling that Ken Ilsø did not use the prohibited substance in order to improve his performance.

32-year old Ken Ilsø, who last played in Australian Adelaide United, has been sentenced to a two-year ban as a result of being tested positive on January 27th, 2019 for the drug benzoylecgonine.

In the verdict from the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) it states that Ken Ilsø did not take the prohibited substancewith the intention of improving his sporting performance.

- It wasn´t a calculated decision to make me a better football player. On the contrary, it was a lousy decision I made in a vulnerable moment, says Ken Ilsø.

In Australia, the loneliness became too overwhelming, and in an attempt to escape reality for a moment, I made a lousy decision. I regret it, but I also stand by my action and will live with the consequences

- My football career has brought me around the world. The Netherlands, Germany, China, Singapore, Malaysia and most recently Australia. It has been enriching, and I have learned several languages. However, at the end of my career, it also became lonely to always travel alone. In Australia, the loneliness became too overwhelming, and in an attempt to escape reality for a moment, I made a lousy decision. I regret it, but I also stand by my action and will live with the consequences, he states.

- Obviously, this wasn’t the way, I thought, I would end my professional career. But it is, what it is. Now, I am looking forward, and the time has come to my life after football. I’ve just started studying and I will use the coming time to find out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Øland welcomes a much-needed change of rules

Throughout the process, Ken Ilsø has been in close contact with the Danish Football Players' Association, and not least, Professional Footballers Australia, the PFA.

- In cooperation with the PFA, we have been available 24/7- and continuously advised – Ken throughout the process. He was in a difficult situation, therefore it was important that both the Danish Players’ Association and the Professional Footballers Australia were ready to help Ken, says Mads Øland, Director of the Danish Football Players’ Association.

Mads Øland is happy, it is emphasized in the ruling that it has not been a question of use of performing enhancing drugs. Had the Australian authorities assessed differently, the Dane could have been sentenced with a four-year suspension.

- We are pleased that ASADA – and rightly so – has ruled, that Ken did not attempt to improve his performance on the field or otherwise tried to cheat anyone. That is not what this case is about. Thankfully ASADA has reached the same conclusion and emphasized this in the ruling. That is positive, says Mads Øland.

We, in The Danish Football Players' Association, have argued for years that traces of benzoylecgonine and other ‘social drugs’ are punished too harsh. Because this kind of use of social drugs is not about cheating in your sport and doping yourselves to a better result.

- Having said that, a two-year ban is a harsh punishment. We, in The Danish Football Players' Association, have argued for years that traces of benzoylecgonine and other ‘social drugs’ are punished too harsh. Because this kind of use of social drugs is not about cheating in your sport and doping yourselves to a better result. That is why we want to help the person and not just punish. It is common sense and compassion for both football players and all other people. The same conclusion must have been reached by WADA, whom is at this very moment working on a new classification for these substances, which means that such drugs will be punished more lenient when they are proven not to be used to improve sporting performance. It is a much-needed change of the rules, that we welcome from the players side.

- In November, should the proposed amendments to the World Anti-Doping Code be adopted, the penalty for offences of this nature will be a maximum of three months. This puts into greater focus the nature of Ken’s offending and the disproportionate impact this sanction will have on his life, Mads Øland says.

In August 2019, the change of the rule went through the third round of hearings. Here, WADA proposed a three-month suspension penalty, if it can be proven that the drug – as was the case for Ken Ilsø – has not been taken as a performance enhancer. If the athlete agrees to go into a rehabilitation program, the penalty can be reduced to one month. The new rules are scheduled to be in effect from 2021.

Ken Ilsø’s suspension began on 21 March 2019, when he was suspended by his employer at the time Australian Adelaide United. Ken Ilsø has no further comments.

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