(Reuters) - Five anti-doping violations within both the professional and community game were discovered out of more than 800 tests conducted across all levels of rugby in England in the 2017-18 season, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Tuesday.
The programme carried out 739 tests within the professional game while 99 tests were conducted at community level, the eighth annual report of the RFU’s anti-doping advisory group said.
There were two professional anti-doping violations and three community violations last season. There were also four violations of the RFU illicit drugs policy last season after they conducted 332 tests.
Yorkshire Carnegie’s South African flanker Brandon Staples was banned from all sport for four years last April after testing positive for three steroids while Wasps hooker Ashley Johnson was handed a backdated six-month ban last July.
The three amateur players found guilty received bans ranging from two to four years each.
“The combination of a comprehensive testing and education programme is the bedrock of our commitment. We’re confident this approach is working with violations remaining low in the 2017-18 season,” Premiership Rugby director Phil Winstanley said in a statement.
Richard Bryan, a director at the Rugby Players Association, said it was imperative the players continue to confront the risks posed by doping and the use of illicit drugs.
“Protection of our game and our members is an absolute priority and, alongside the RFU and Premiership Rugby, we remain fully committed to the player education and testing programmes,” Bryan said.
Of the tests conducted in the professional game, 81 percent were out of competition and the report said more than 1,000 players had face-to-face workshops during the season to receive anti-doping education.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge