Cup drug tests come back 100 per cent clean

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World Cup organisers announced yesterday that their strict anti-doping programme has returned a 100 per cent pass-rate.

A total of 176 tests have been completed during the pool stages and quarter-finals, with no positive results. The International Rugby Board's anti-doping unit has introduced blood testing for the first time at a World Cup and report it was "well received" by players and team management.

All samples are tested for known substances but also kept on file for analysis when a procedure to check for human growth hormone is developed. The World Anti-Doping Agency expects that to be within a year.

The IRB's anti-doping manager, Tim Ricketts, said: "The programme has been the most extensive in the history of Rugby World Cup. It has comprised four tests from each match and an out-of-competition blood-testing programme, the first for a World Cup. The IRB believes it is one of the first international sports governing bodies to collect blood serum out of competition, which has seen five players from each of the semi-finalists tested over the past two days."

In the past 12 months, the IRB has conducted 430 "no notice, out-of-competition" tests on World Cup squad players. "We are on target to conduct a record number of tests in 2007, with some 1,130 controls to be completed before the end of the year," Ricketts added.

Between 2004 and 2006, the IRB handed down suspensions to 14 players for returning positive tests – including performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. Australia's Wendell Sailor was given a two-year ban in 2006 after testing positive for cocaine use and Fiji's Rupeni Caucaunibuca was banned for three months – ruling him out of the World Cup – for cannabis use.

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