- RFU conducted 617 in and out of competition tests last season
- Results of findings to shape anti-doping education in future
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The third RFU Anti-Doping Annual Report has been published, showing a sport in good health and highlighting the extent of testing, education, deterrent and research being deployed to keep rugby clean in England.
There were 617 in and out of competition tests in season 2012-13 with no test failures recorded at the elite level of the game. At National League level and below there were four positive test results, two for the banned stimulant Methylhexanamine (MHA), one for Cannabis and Cocaine, and one for Dianabol.
The last two cases highlighted the potential risks of steroid use by young players and as well as continuing the Academy testing implemented last season and a wide-ranging education programme, the RFU has commissioned academic research into attitudes towards supplementation and doping among young players. The results of that research will further inform education and deterrents in this area.
A further 345 tests were conducted as part of the Illicit Drugs Programme, which conducts out of competition tests for common illicit drugs with the objective of protecting the health and welfare of players and the image of the game.
There were five positive results recorded and the cases concerned are treated confidentially with a ‘first strike’ fine and access to assessment, rehabilitation and counselling.
Roy Headey, Chair of the Anti-Doping Advisory Group, said: “This report demonstrates the positive work undertaken by the RFU and its partners in the fight against doping in rugby and there are many reasons for confidence in our programme. However, the anti-doping rule violations coupled with the illicit drug programme violations demonstrate more than ever the need to continue to adapt and respond to the changing threats to the game and its players.”
Phil Winstanley, Rugby Director of Premiership Rugby, said: “The collaborative approach to managing the risk within rugby in England is a model of good practice. The proactive programme from the RFU, the Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs and the players, who are genuine advocates for the core values of the game, provides the best possible chance of keeping the sport of rugby union clean and fair. We will continue to report annually since, in our opinion, openness about doping is the only basis for drug-free sport.”
David Barnes, Rugby Director of the Rugby Players Association, said: “It is reassuring to see another season concluded with no systemic doping amongst the senior elite players in England. They continue to be role models for the wider game. A small number of adverse findings via the Illicit Drugs Programme is a reminder that we can never assume the anti-doping job has been ‘done’.”
Education is a key component of the anti-doping programme and in 2012-13 sessions were delivered to a wide range of levels and age groups including England squads, Aviva Premiership Rugby, Greene King IPA Championship and National League one clubs, regional academies, further education providers and schools.
The RFU’s anti-doping staff also presented at seminars for teachers, parents, coaches, team managers, medical practitioners and player agents. Further outreach campaigns have been delivered in partnership with UK Anti Doping’s 100%Me brand, including taking the anti-doping message to the world’s largest schools rugby festival, the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, which attracts 7,500 boys and girls aged 13 to 18.