Rugby Union: 'Innocent' Fox faces drug ban

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THE Neath rugby union flanker, Kevin Fox, is facing a three-month ban after failing a drug test earlier this month, writes Robert Cole.

The 23-year-old former Wales Youth and Under-19 international was found to have traces of the stimulant ephedrine in a sample given after the Heineken League First Division game at Pontypridd on 5 September.

According to club officials, the result was returned positive for no other reason than the player had taken a tablet given to him by his mother the night before the game to help relieve the symptoms of a heavy cold. 'We have clearly got a case of total innocence here. A flu remedy, administered by the mother to all the family, was taken by the player,' the Neath rugby administrator, Brian Thomas, said.

The Welsh Rugby Union, however, takes a different view. 'Ignorance is no defence in these matters,' the union secretary, Denis Evans, said yesterday.

All clubs received Sports Council for Wales dope control cards to issue to squad members in August. The top line of that card says that stimulants, including ephedrine, are illegal. Fox has been told not to play until his case is resolved.