The above-mentioned article, entitled "England Rugby Captain Exposed As Drugs Dealer", purports to stem from a conversation which I had with a man and a woman who held themselves to be representatives of Gillette, the well-known toiletries manufacturer, and were proposing a large sponsorship deal, at a meeting in a London hotel last Friday evening at which all three of us were present throughout. The article contains a series of supposed admissions which are directly attributed to me and contains various allegations relating to my past personal life which are extremely serious. My comments on the article are as follows:
1. I categorically deny ever having dealt in illegal drugs in any way whatsoever.
2. I categorically deny ever having used illegal drugs, whether on the 1997 tour of South Africa or at any other time during my rugby career.
3. I categorically deny that I have any knowledge of any of my team-mates using illegal drugs during the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa or at any other time.
4. The circumstances in which the supposed admissions were obtained amounted to an elaborate set-up by the writers of the News of the World article (by their own admission) to which I naively fell victim.
5. I admit that remarks attributed to me in the article do appear to reflect some of what was said at the meeting, however, what I said was in response to a direct line of questioning initiated by two people. An atmosphere was created in which they gave the impression that they were well versed in matters pertaining to the use of illegal drugs and that they would be impressed if I were to play along with it, disappointed if I did not. The conversation was held behind closed doors and naturally I had no idea, particularly in light of their own drug-taking revelations, that my remarks would be reported to anyone by these people.
6. Many of the qualifying remarks which I made during the meeting do not appear to have been printed, for instance my flat refusal, when invited to entertain the possibility of drug-taking either at the meeting or on any other occasion.
7. By pandering to the whims of these people I appreciate that I made an error in judgement which stems from naivety and foolishness on my part. In hindsight it appears that the entire basis of the meeting and most, if not all, of what was supposed to have been said in it, was complete fabrication by all concerned.
8. I maintain, as I have always, that any use of illegal drugs is wrong and unacceptable. I have had many random drugs tests in my career, all of which have proved negative.
9. I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for any embarrassment or distress that this episode has caused to my family, my colleagues at all levels of the game of rugby, the RFU and all supporters of rugby union.
10. I remain totally committed to Wasps and England, however I have decided at this point to withdraw from the forthcoming tour to Australia in order to be with my family and so that Clive Woodward and the England squad can get on with the job in hand without further unwarranted distraction.Reuse content