Caroline Spelman's son Jonathan given rugby drug ban

 

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's teenage son Jonathan has been suspended from playing rugby for 21 months after admitting that he took banned substances, the sport's ruling body confirmed today.

The Rugby Football Union announced the 17-year-old is barred from taking part in any match or tournament until October 19 2013.

Jonathan admitted taking a number of drugs, including anabolic steroids and a growth hormone, when he appeared before an independent disciplinary tribunal on March 26.

In February the Spelman family tried to suppress details about the case being published through a High Court injunction but later issued a statement saying Jonathan was "deeply sorry" for taking the substances.

Panel chairman Christopher Quinlan QC said: "In fixing the appropriate period of suspension, the tribunal had regard to all the relevant matters advanced during the course of the hearing, including the player's youth, immaturity and admissions.

"It therefore reduced by three months the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility of two years and imposed a period of ineligibility (suspension) of 21 months."

An appeal has been lodged and will be heard at a date to be confirmed.

The Spelman family decided last month not to appeal against a High Court judge's refusal to continue a privacy injunction.

Jonathan was originally granted the order preventing the publication of sensitive personal information in the Daily Star Sunday at a private hearing in February.

The judge, Mr Justice Lindblom, said the information, which was leaked to the newspaper, attracted a reasonable expectation of privacy and publication would not advance the public interest.

But, on February 24, Mr Justice Tugendhat concluded that it was "not necessary or proportionate" to continue the injunction. The court heard that the Spelman family had already incurred legal costs of £60,994.

The injunction remained in place until March 2 to give the 17-year-old, who was suing through his mother and father Mark, an opportunity to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the judge's decision but no application was made.

In a joint statement later that day, Mrs Spelman and her husband said the ex-England under-16 rugby player had been trying to speed up his recovery from a serious injury.

The couple said: "Our son, who was then aged 16, was injured in September 2011 and took some widely available drugs in order to aid his recovery.

"The substances are, however, banned under anti-doping rules.

"He has made a voluntary statement to the RFU and is now subject to their disciplinary process, which is still ongoing.

"Our son knows that taking a banned substance can never, ever be right and he is deeply sorry for the mistakes he has made and is determined to learn from them.

"We will do everything we can to support him as he faces the consequences of his actions. He is still very young and we hope he can be given space to do that."

In a statement today, the Cabinet minister and her husband said: "Our son remains very sorry for his mistakes.

"Our prime concern now is to support Jonny with his studies and coping with the ban."

PA

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