Welshman Joseph Phelps has been hit with a four-year suspension after testing positive for nandrolone, bringing the total number of British rugby union players currently serving a drugs ban to 20.
Phelps, who plays for SWALEC Championship side Newbridge RFC, failed an out of competition test for the anabolic steroid, which can increase muscle size, strength and power as well as aggression and competitiveness, on June 16 last year.
The 21-year-old will be unable to return to the sport until July 1, 2019 after his ban was backdated to July 2, 2015.
The decision to suspend Phelps, the 13th Welsh player serving a ban for a failed test, for a four-year period was announced by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) today.
A further 23 rugby union players in Britain have already served sanctions imposed by UKAD, meaning 43 have now received bans from the organisation in the last five years.
“Athletes are solely responsible for any banned substance which is found in their system, regardless of how it got there or whether there was an intention to cheat or not,” UKAD director of legal Graham Arthur said.
“This case highlights that all athletes, regardless of level, must be aware, and understand, the risks to their sporting careers if they test positive.
“They must ensure they manage that risk at all times.”
The news represents a further example of a growing drug culture at the lower levels of British club rugby.
Phelps’ case comes just a month after under-fire UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead, appointed to the role in February 2015, suggested the amount of Welsh rugby union players to have failed tests was due to a “societal problem”.
“We are seeing intelligence indicating that there is a big steroid problem particularly within Wales generally, a societal problem,” she said.
“Maybe that inevitably starts to encroach on lower levels of any sport.”
Sapstead has faced calls to resign from the position after the Government called on UKAD to explain why they did not take action against a doctor who claims to have prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs to 150 athletes, including Premier League footballers, following reports in The Sunday Times.
She confirmed they had been aware of allegations against Mark Bonar after a sportsperson approached UKAD two years ago but had not been able to act upon them because the doctor was not affiliated to any particular sport.
Bonar has denied the accusations made in the reports.
- By Liam Morgan
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz