Pearson given drug ban until 2001

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The Independent Online

Martin Pearson, the Halifax half-back who escaped without punishment after a drugs test before the start of the season showed high levels of testosterone, has been banned for the rest of the year after testing positive for Ecstasy.

Martin Pearson, the Halifax half-back who escaped without punishment after a drugs test before the start of the season showed high levels of testosterone, has been banned for the rest of the year after testing positive for Ecstasy.

The Rugby League has also ordered Pearson, who argued successfully that his first positive test was due to a legal dietary supplement, to undergo regular testing throughout 2001. "We wish to emphasise that Martin's appearance today had no connection with a previous hearing involving the same player," said the League's deputy chief executive, Dave Callaghan. "We believe the sentence we have imposed reflects our determination to keep our game free from drugs."

It is understood that Pearson claimed that his drink had been spiked; if so, that explanation clearly failed to impress the League's executive board.

Adrian Morley is to leave Leeds at the end of the season to play for the Sydney City Roosters in Australia. The Roosters have beaten off late competition from Wigan to sign the Great Britain forward and the club's chairman, Nick Politis, said: "We are ecstatic to have one of the world's best forwards here."

Morley will link up again with his former Leeds coach, Graham Murray. "Adrian says that he has always wanted to play in the NRL competition," Politis said. "In the end it was the Graham Murray connection that swung the deal for us"

In tonight's game against Leeds, the London Broncos are to give a first-team debut to George Truelove, a winger from the Bedford rugby union club who has just a handful of Alliance appearances behind him.

Ian Millward has agreed a new three-year contract with St Helens, which will keep him at the club until 2003. Millward, whose current deal was due to expire at the end of next season, has been a huge success since replacing the sacked Ellery Hanley early in the season. Since then, Saints have won 16 of their 18 games.

"It's been a fairy-tale start to my coaching career at Saints," said Millward. "The new deal gives me security and provides the club with stability for the next three years."

In his first game after settling his medium-term future, Millward will confront a player whose career he was responsible for turning around, Andrew Purcell, who deputises for Castleford's first-choice hooker, Aaron Raper. Purcell was a player in search of a position when he played for Millward in Illawarra's reserve-grade side four years ago. "He told me to concentrate on playing hooker," said Purcell. "I took his advice and that is the position. I would always play if I had the choice."

Purcell's versatility has still been valuable to Cas as they have consolidated their place alongside Saints in Super League's top five. He has also started matches at stand-off, scrum-half, second row and loose forward as well as moving to prop on occasion.

"We have been very consistent and we are competitive with everyone," he said. "All we need now is to beat top sides like Bradford, Wigan and Saints."

Tomorrow, Millward expects to field the same team that beat Huddersfield-Sheffield last weekend, but a late fitness clearance for either Kevin Iro or Paul Newlove would no doubt be welcome.

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