Stevens jumps before he is pushed

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The Independent Online

Matt Stevens has left his club Bath following his two-year drugs ban.

The England prop was last month banned from all rugby until January 18, 2011 after testing positive for cocaine and has now revealed in an interview with the Times he was leaving the Guinness Premiership club before he was sacked.

“I have to do the honourable thing,” Stevens said. “I am quitting before they sack me. I want to spare the club who have been so good to me.

“I can’t thank the coaches enough for the support they have shown me, and the players. Everyone has been magnificent. Again I can only say how sorry I am at letting people down.”

The South Africa-born prop was selected at random to provide a urine sample following Bath’s Heineken Cup win over Glasgow on December 14.

Stevens, who is due at an internal hearing with Bath, felt the pressure of professional sport contributed to his cocaine addiction.

“A lot of people don’t understand how much pressure there is on professional sportsmen. I am not making excuses as there are hundreds of professionals in the world who deal with it well. I wasn’t one of them.”

Stevens revealed his use of the drug only became a serious problem towards the end of last year when he used to take it alone at night.

“That was the worst,” he said. “I would end up binge-drinking and then looking for oblivion somewhere else.

“Coupled with the personal stuff and the actual pressure of rugby, it sometimes felt easy just to lose myself.

“I can’t believe I would do that to myself. I am a confident, ambitious, social person. That I would be addicted to anything is completely incomprehensible to me right now.

“On the surface everything was fine, but who knows what goes on inside anyone else? I am in all outward appearances a happy person.

“But I was struggling to meet expectations, and I wasn’t meeting them because I was doing cocaine. It was a vicious circle. It would always be at the end of a drinking binge - do coke, hate myself, vow never to do it again and then do so.”

He added: “I suppose there is a bit of a self-destruct button in me. It was like I was tempting fate. Subconsciously I knew I would get caught and it is a blessing I did.”



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