Quins chief survives Bloodgate

Mark Evans cleared of serious wrongdoing but doctor still faces investigation
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The Independent Online

The Harlequins fake blood scandal, which led to the resignations of the chairman Charles Jillings and the director of rugby Dean Richards as well as a torrent of heavy fines and long suspensions, will not claim further scalps. Not at the club, at least.

Dr Wendy Chapman, the match-day doctor accused of deliberately cutting the lip of the wing Tom Williams to disguise the fact that an injury had been fabricated, faces investigation by the General Medical Council, but as far as Quins themselves are concerned, the book is closed.

Yesterday evening, the chief disciplinary officer of the Rugby Football Union, Judge Jeff Blackett, announced he would not be taking further action in connection with events during last season's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster at the Stoop and the subsequent cover-up. He said the punishments already heaped on Quins were "proportionate" and reached the conclusion that there was no merit in prolonging the trauma.

"This whole affair has been particularly unedifying," said Blackett, "and there is no doubt that the episode has brought the game into disrepute.

"There will be some in the game who will consider that further action should be taken against Harlequins and senior officials, and that my decision has undermined the integrity of the sport. I disagree. This saga has lasted far too long already and a line needs to be drawn so that reputations and the image of the game may be restored. I have no doubt that everyone involved now understands the importance of telling the truth at the earliest possible opportunity."

Blackett's primary concern was to discover whether there was a case to be brought against the higher echelons of the club's management, in particular in respect of any pressure they might have put on Williams not to make a full disclosure of events in support of his appeal against a 12-month suspension. After taking evidence from the principal protagonists, he made a point of clearing Mark Evans, the highly regarded chief executive, of any serious wrongdoing.

He said of Evans, who has been given a vote of confidence by the board: "He believes he acted in the best interests of the employees of the club. He can be criticised for not disclosing the facts as soon as they came to his attention. This was an error of judgement. However, bringing disciplinary proceedings against him for his conduct... would be oppressive."