Drugs in rugby 'widespread'

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The Independent Online

Both codes of rugby are facing a fresh bout of allegations about widespread drug abuse. The BBC radio programme On The Line this Sunday will claim that the taking of anabolic steroids is widespread both in rugby league and, particularly in Wales, in rugby union.

There was a sample of the material unveiled on Radio 5 Live last night, when the former Swinton player, John Allen, alleged that "between 20 and 25 per cent" of professional league players are taking drugs.

"A player would finish the season 12 and a half stone and come back for the next season 14 and a half stone," he said, adding that it was "virtually impossible" to achieve that sort of weight gain naturally.

The athletics coach, Wilf Paish, who has also been involved in training and conditioning rugby league players, said he had tried to alert the Rugby League to the fact that its testing procedures were not tough enough. There are steroids available, he said, which can clear the system in two hours.

Rugby league, through the Sports Council, tests two players from each side in one match each weekend and there are provisions for targeting players and testing at training and during the close season. Two players, Jamie Bloem of Doncaster and David Stephenson of Oldham, are serving two year bans after testing positive for steroids last season and two more, David Myers and David Watson, have completed four month suspensions after failing to take tests.

I understand that the makers of the programme have the names of 40 league players they claim have used steroids. The League has asked for those names but has been refused. In addition, although there was no mention of this last night, 110 mainly Welsh rugby union players face the same accusations.

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