Anti-Doping Update

Two club rugby players in Scotland, both New Zealanders, have been banned from the game for the maximum two years by a Union judicial committee after returning adverse analytical findings for "social" drugs. No 8 Justin Matheson, 30, of Stirling County tested positive for both amphetamine and marijuana following routine UK Sport testing at the Edinburgh Academicals v Stirling County match on Saturday 15 March. Fellow back-row forward Josh Abraham, 22, of Watsonians tested positive for benzoylecognine, a metabolite of cocaine, following routine UK Sport testing at the Heriot's v Watsonians match on Saturday 22 March.Two club rugby players in Scotland, both New Zealanders, have been banned from the game for the maximum two years by a Union judicial committee after returning adverse analytical findings for "social" drugs.

No 8 Justin Matheson, 30, of Stirling County tested positive for both amphetamine and marijuana following routine UK Sport testing at the Edinburgh Academicals v Stirling County match on Saturday 15 March.

Fellow back-row forward Josh Abraham, 22, of Watsonians tested positive for benzoylecognine, a metabolite of cocaine, following routine UK Sport testing at the Heriot's v Watsonians match on Saturday 22 March.

The Union judicial committee, comprising Rod McKenzie, a senior legal practitioner with law firm Harper Macleod as Chairman, Dr Gerry Haggerty, team doctor to Glasgow Warriors, and Heather Barton, Head of Legal at the SFA, met last night before reaching its decisions.

Justin Matheson declined his right to a hearing and failed to make any submissions either to explain the finding for amphetamine and marijuana, or in mitigation. The Judicial Committee determined that he be suspended from all aspects of the game worldwide for the mandatory two years until 4 April 2010.

A formal hearing was held in the case of Josh Abraham who was suspended from all aspects of the game worldwide for the mandatory two years until 9 April 2010. Notification of the Judicial Committee's decision is appended below.

Both players have the right to request a formal post-hearing review of the decisions.

The IRB and UK Sport have been kept aware of proceedings throughout the process and have been advised today of the decisions.

Colin Thomson, SRU Head of Community Rugby, said: _x001C_Scottish Rugby has a rigorous anti-doping policy and information is freely available, both on-line and in person, spelling out a clear anti-drugs message to all.

_x001C_We encourage all clubs and players, regardless of the level they play at, to avail themselves of that information. Our message is absolutely unequivocal. The taking of banned substances, including 'social' drugs, has no place in our game at any level._x001D_

Gregor Nicholson, Scottish Rugby's International Administration manager, who is responsible for over-seeing our anti-doping policy, said: _x001C_In the last ten years approximately 2,000 tests have been undertaken on Scottish players through our most comprehensive testing programme with no violations until the recent inadvertent asthma-related finding involving Scotland lock Scott MacLeod earlier this year.

_x001C_These two club cases show that we are not immune to the scourge of doping in sport and that we cannot be complacent but we do not believe that these cases are indicative of a doping problem in Scottish Rugby, whether for performance enhancing substances or for _x001C_social_x001D_ drugs.

_x001C_The rate of findings for social drugs is incomparable with statistics for the young male population as a whole._x001D_



Notes to editors:
1. Scott MacLeod was cleared by a judicial committee to continue to play the game after he returned an adverse finding having changed his asthma medication without the required permission.
2. The timelines applied in these two club cases were in accordance with the stringent due process laid down in the SRU Anti-Doping Regulations. A chronology of both cases is available on request.
3. Scottish Rugby appoints the Judicial Committee to hear a case. The Committee is independent of the Board, Council and staff of Scottish Rugby.


SCOTTISH RUGBY UNION (_x001C_the Union_x001D_)

ADVANCE NOTIFICATION OF DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEEE

Hearing at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Wednesday 29 May 2008


IN RESPECT OF:

Josh Abraham (_x001C_the Player_x001D_) and the charge that in contravention of Regulation 2(1) of the Scottish Rugby Union Anti-Doping Regulations (effective 1 July 2007) (_x001C_the Regulations_x001D_) there was present in a bodily Sample taken from the Player a Prohibited Substance, viz benzoylecognine (a metabolite of cocaine) without there being present a Therapeutic Use Exemption granted to the Player in accordance with Regulation 5 of the Regulations.

MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE: (_x001C_the Committee_x001D_)

Rod McKenzie (Chairman)
Doctor Gerry Haggerty
Ms Heather Barton

DECISION OF THE COMMITTEE:

In this advance notification of decision capitalised terms have their defined terms as provided in the Regulations.

( i ) In contravention of Regulation 2(1) there was present in a bodily Sample given by the
Player on 22 March 2008, benzoylecognine (a metabolite of cocaine) and in respect of which there was not present a Therapeutic Use Exemption granted to the Player in accordance with Regulation 5 of the Regulations and that accordingly an Anti-Doping Rule Violation was committed by the Player.

(ii) That in respect of the Anti-Doping Rule Violation committed, the Player is suspended for a period of two years from 10 April 2008 until 9 April 2010 (both dates inclusive) from participating in any Match or other activity as set out in Regulation 22.7.


NOTE:

This is an Advance Notification of the decision of the Committee. A detailed written decision
will follow.

At the Hearing on 28 May 2008 the Player admitted having committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation but argued that the otherwise mandatory period of Ineligibility of two years should be eliminated because he bore No Fault or Negligence in relation to the violation or that the period of otherwise mandatory Ineligibility should be reduced because he bore No Significant Fault or Negligence for the violation. The Player failed to establish either that he bore No Fault or Negligence or that he bore No Significant Fault or Negligence.

The Player explained to the Committee that he had been present at a party two days prior to the _x001C_in competition_x001D_ Sample having been taken. He stated that he was conscious of cocaine being taken by persons present at the party but that he had not personally taken cocaine. However, he had remained at the party for a period of approximately two hours during which he was conscious of others using cocaine. The Player was not conscious of having drunk anything containing cocaine but speculated that someone at the party had placed cocaine in a drink which he had then drunk, unaware that the drink contained cocaine. However, the Player was unable to produce any evidence that such had occurred.

Players are responsible for the presence of a Prohibited Substance in their body. A Player present when a Prohibited Substance is being taken must be aware of the risk that a third party may administer the substance to the Player without the knowledge of the Player. If Players are conscious that a Prohibited Substance is being taken at a time and at a place when the Player is present then the Player should immediately remove himself from that place. A failure to do so on the part of the Player means that a Player exposes himself to substantial risk.

In this case the Player cannot establish, on the balance of probabilities, the method by which the Prohibited Substance entered his system and, in the circumstances described to the Committee, was unable to establish that he bore No Fault or Negligence or No Significant Fault or Negligence for the Anti-Doping Rule Violation.

Accordingly, the mandatory period of Ineligibility of two years, provided for a first violation in Regulation 22.1, was imposed.


This advance notification of decision may be published

The Player has the right to refer this decision to a Post-Hearing Review Body within seven days from the date of receipt by him of this notification, as set out in Regulations 25 and 26.

Rod McKenzie
Judicial Committee Chairman