Sheffield United could be forced to wait until the end of the month before the disciplinary panel investigating the circumstances surrounding Jose Baxter’s latest positive drugs test releases its findings.
The midfielder, who was suspended by his club when traces of a prohibited recreational substance were discovered in his system earlier this season, is facing a maximum suspension of two years after receiving a five month ban following a similar offence last term.
Baxter, who The Star understands remains on United’s payroll despite being ordered to stay away from their training complex and other club facilities, was accompanied by a representative from the Professional Footballers’ Association when he submitted his version of events during a personal hearing at Wembley three weeks ago.
Although the 24-year-old is thought to have accepted the drug, believed to be cocaine, was present in his system during a testing procedure carried-out on behalf of the Football Association in February, he claims it was inadvertently rather than deliberately ingested.
Baxter mounted a similar defence after testing positive for MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, before May’s League One play-off semi-final against Swindon Town.
On that occasion, the former England under-17 international insisted his drink had been spiked during a night-out in London with friends and, with the FA electing to suspend a large portion of his ban, was cleared to face Gillingham on the opening day of the present campaign.
Baxter, whose contract expires this summer, has not appeared for United since February’s defeat at Bury. Despite facing calls to sack the player following his latest indiscretion, officials at Bramall Lane are likely to have been advised they could leave themselves legally exposed if they take their own independent action before the FA’s disciplinary process has run its course.
United paid Oldham Athletic a reported fee of £500,000 when they signed Baxter, who progressed through Everton’s youth system, from Oldham Athletic in 2013.