Sibbit escapes ban over use of asthma drug

The Salford forward, Ian Sibbit, has had the cloud that hung over him for almost a year lifted by being told that he will not be suspended for taking an asthma drug.

Sibbit tested positive for the banned substance, Salbutamol, after a match against Widnes last April. The Rugby League accepted his explanation of accidental over-use of an inhaler, but the case was taken up by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Now he has been told that although he has been found guilty, he will only be given a reprimand.

"I'm delighted I can now put this behind me," Sibbit said. "Rugby league is my life and I have never taken any performance enhancing drugs. The thought that I could be banned for two years has been hanging over me and I now look forward to concentrating on my game. I have been advised by the doctor on ways to manage my asthma effectively. This will not be a mistake I will be repeating."

Francis Meli has arrived back at St Helens after sorting out his visa problems. The New Zealand and Samoa winger has missed the first five rounds of Super League after failing to apply for his new paperwork in time.

He trained with his team-mates for the first time yesterday, but will not go straight back into the side to face Leeds tomorrow night. Saints have managed with the young reserves, Tom Armstrong and Gary Wheeler, during Meli's absence and are likely to use one of them.

Opponents Leeds continue to be frustrated in their wait for the Kiwi World Cup-winner Greg Eastwood. The forward has been turned down for a British visa because of driving convictions and has now agreed a three-year contract with the Australian club, Canterbury Bulldogs.

The Rhinos' chief executive, Gary Hetherington, insisted that the deal with the Bulldogs was only a loan and that Eastwood, who has appealed the refusal, will still be coming to England if and when he gets a visa.

Kris Radlinski has taken his first steps in coaching by being put in charge of the scholarship scheme at his old club, Wigan. The reshuffle also involves new roles for John Pendlebury and Ray Unsworth.

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