IPSWICH midfielder Adam Tanner was yesterday banned from football for three months after testing positive for cocaine.

The 23-year-old told a disciplinary commission at the Football Association's Lancaster Gate headquarters that he had taken the drug in a nightclub on December 7. Two days later, the midfielder was selected for random testing at the Ipswich training ground, and, when the sample was revealed, he was instantly suspended by his club.

Tanner left the hearing without comment, but FA spokesman Steve Double said that a medical report stated the player did not have a drug problem and that he fully recognised the foolishness of his actions. Double added: ''Tanner told the commission he had been guilty of senseless and foolish behaviour and learned a very painful and expensive lesson. He apologised profusely to the club, his family, and the football world.

''The commission noted that, from the earliest opportunity, Tanner had made a full and frank admission of his guilt. Accounts of his unblemished reputation were also taken into consideration and the commission accepted he had made an isolated but terrible error of judgment.''

Tanner was the third player to test positive for cocaine, a class A controlled drug that is a performance-enhancer. Orient's Roger Stanislaus was banned for 12 months and sacked by his club in February while Charlton youngster Jay Notley was ordered to undergo a three-month rehabilitation course last December.

Double added that Tanner's suspension would be back-dated to run from January 9, meaning that he will be available for the final month of the season. He continued: ''He will also be target tested in the future and warned that another finding of guilt in connection with drugs would risk a permanent ban from the game.''

Tanner's solicitor Horry Money issued a short statement. ''Adam Tanner fully accepts the findings of the hearing and expresses his regret to the FA,'' he said. ''He also expresses his regret to Ipswich Town, the club supporters and his family. He can assure everybody that he has learned a lesson for which he is heartily ashamed. Now he is only anxious to get back into football as quickly as possible to recover his good name.''

Ipswich manager George Burley, who along with Town team-mate Simon Milton provided a character reference, confirmed that the club would support Tanner. ''Adam knows that he has done wrong, that he has let down himself, his family and the club and that if it happens again it will be the end of his football career,'' said Burley. ''Adam made a very bad mistake and has to accept his punishment. But the expert evidence said that this was a one-off isolated incident in social circumstances.''

Brendan Batson, deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association who attended the hearing, stressed that the PFA's campaign against drugs in football would continue. So far more than 300 tests have taken place this season with only two positive samples to date.