The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has announced two Aviva Premiership players tested positive for cocaine last season.
Since the 2008/09 scandal at Bath, the governing body has run a drug-testing program for illicit, recreational drugs. The scandal resulted in ban for four players, including England prop Matt Stevens who admitted to taking cocaine. Stevens had amassed 32 Test caps to date as the perennial challenger of Phil Vickery for the England No 3 shirt.
Stevens later remarked the failed drug test was the best thing that ever happened to him. He had commented, “I am ashamed and deeply sorry for the embarrassment and dismay I have caused the England team and management, my teammates at Bath, and my family and friends. I wish especially to apologise to rugby supporters. When you think about how much time people have put into my career and I have thrown it away. I want to change my life and hopefully one day gets the faith back that people have had in me.”
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) performed 386 tests for illicit drugs in 2015-16. It was disclosed that a big majority of these tests were on hair samples that allow detection for up to five months after a drug was ingested.
The players were fined and not named as they were first offences. They were sent to a specialist centre for expert assessment.
Anti-doping manager Stephen Watkins said: “While we can never rule it out, we feel pretty confident we don’t have some of the issues which maybe occurred in the past.”
Phil Winstanley, rugby director at Premiership Rugby, said: “Unless it’s being used in competition, cocaine isn’t a performance enhancing drug. Clearly we don’t want it in our sport, and that’s why we are doing the program.”