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Kazakhstan footballer took failed drugs test before heroic goals in draw against Ukraine – but club only knew a day after the game

Kazakhstan footballer took failed drugs test before heroic goals in draw against Ukraine – but club only knew a day after the game
A footballer who scored twice to deny Ukraine their first win in their bid to reach the 2022 World Cup – including a 95th-minute equalizer – took a drugs test almost three weeks earlier which came back positive, his club has said.

Midfielder Ruslan Valiullin was the hero of the hour for Kazakhstan after netting both of their goals in a 2-2 draw at home to Oleksandr Petrakov's side on September 1, including a 74th-minute leveler and another dramatic equalizer with the last kick of the game after Danylo Sikan looked to have sealed victory for Ukraine by scoring in the 93rd minute.

UEFA has now opened disciplinary proceedings over a drugs check the player is said to have failed on August 12, taking the test after his club team, Kazakhstan Premier League leaders Tobol, lost 5-0 at Slovak opponents Zilina to crash out of Europa Conference League qualifying.

"He says that he did not know [the drug was in his system]," Azamat Aytkhozhin, of the Kazakhstan Football Federation (KFF), told RIA, discussing the circumstances around the prohibited substance being detected.

An interlocuter was quoted to have told the agency: “The club is preparing an official paper but the national team has nothing to do with this. This is a club story.

"The document [about a positive doping test] came to us on September 2 – that is, the day after the match with the Ukrainians.

"In that game, Valiullin suffered an adductor muscle injury, which is why he did not take part in the next games of the national team [losing 1-0 in Finland and drawing 2-2 away to Bosnia and Herzegovina].

"He was at the disposal of the team but was being treated. Now Valiullin is already [back with] the club."

Ukraine endured a frustrating week as they extended their record of stalemates in all five of their World Cup qualifiers in the current campaign.

Petrakov saw his players take the lead against World Cup holders France before drawing 1-1, and a 93rd-minute equalizer for the Czech Republic meant they missed out on a win in Plzen in agonizing style.

"We drew there and lost two important points," Petrakov told reporters when he was asked about Valiullin's positive test. "I'm not used to building my happiness on someone else's misfortune."

The Blue and Yellow would be outright second in their group behind France had they won in Kazakhstan, but could now be overtaken by Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, both of whom have a game in hand on them.

“[We] received information about the initiation of a disciplinary case by UEFA connected with a possible violation of anti-doping rules by Ruslan Valiullin," Tobol confirmed.

"All information has been communicated to the [relevant] persons inside the club; at the moment, an internal check is underway to determine how the prohibited substances could have got into the football player's blood.

"The result of the test was sent to the player on September 2, when the player was already on his way to Finland as part of the delegation of the Kazakhstan national team."

Valiullin has won three caps for his nation since his debut against France in March and is closing in on 50 appearances for Tobol, who he joined in 2019.

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