NICOLE SAPSTEAD, chief executive of the body responsible for anti-doping measures in Scottish sport has conceded it is "entirely possible" that football and rugby in this country are tainted by undetected use of performance enhancing substances such as EPO.

Sapstead, who leads UK Anti Doping which collects and analyses samples collected in rugby and football, classifies both as ‘proactive’ in their respective attempts to stamp out doping. Nevertheless she is pragmatic when asking herself if EPO use is going undetected in the sports.

“It is entirely possible, entirely possible,” she agrees. “There is a good test for EPO it is hard to detect but very evident, and that is well documented, that it is hard to detect, especially if individuals are micro dosing on it.

“That is why authorities like ourselves use the Athlete Biological Passport and why authorities like us are able to retain samples for retrospective testing. But EPO use is no different from Growth Hormone use or some of these other substances that clear the system in a short period of time, which gives the individual the added advantage that they need. It’s a constant battle for us.

“I do think that there are individuals out there who make a livelihood of assisting athletes to cheat. And they are not cheap. Therefore it follows that if you have got a sport that commands the sort of salaries that football commands, who is to say that there isn't some sophisticated entourage or sophisticated individual who is helping them improve their performance, get to where they need to get, maintain their level of fitness or standards they need to have, in a way that is not legitimate and above board?”

Fraser Wishart, chief executive of the Scottish Professional Footballers Association said: “I don’t say that we should be complacent in football, particularly in Scottish football, of course not. But I am not aware of instances where players have failed tests for performance enhancing drugs.

“There have been a handful of instances where they have been taking cocaine, something like that. If you are part of a team it is certainly more difficult to influence the result if you like by taking performance enhancing drugs, and I think there is quite a rigorous testing program in place in football.”

A glance at the UK Anti Doping Agency’s current list of suspended athletes reveals over 50 names including 14 from Rugby League and 16 Rugby Union players, the latest addition being Luke Willmott. The former Derby RFC captain was handed a two-year suspension this week for attempting to traffic human growth hormone.

There is only one footballer listed, Partick Thistle’s Jordan McMillan. He’s serving a two-year ban for cocaine, a classified stimulant.