Doctor at centre of 'Bloodgate' admits role in cutting player's lip

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The Independent Online

The fake blood scandal at Harlequins is now 16 months old, but try as they might, the London club cannot find a way of putting it behind them. Yesterday, the accident and emergency doctor who found herself at the heart of the affair appeared before the General Medical Council and admitted cutting the lip of the Quins wing Tom Williams in an effort to fool suspicious members of the Leinster back-room staff, who correctly believed Williams had bitten on a blood capsule as part of a substitution scam.

Dr Wendy Chapman, a consultant at Maidstone Hospital in Kent but currently suspended pending the GMC hearing outcome, faces allegations of dishonest conduct and of behaviour likely to bring the profession into disrepute. Mr Michael Hayton, opening the case for the GMC, said Dr Chapman played no part in the planning of the scam, which unfolded during a tight Heineken Cup quarter-final at The Stoop in April of last year, but was involved in its frenzied aftermath.

"When Tom Williams came off, it was apparent to a number of people that what was coming from his mouth was not blood," said Mr Hayton. "It led to disquiet from Leinster officials, as they saw it was a ruse to bring back on Nick Evans [the Harlequins outside-half and principal goal-kicker].

"There were a number of people... attempting to see what was going on, attempting to confirm or disprove there was a legitimate blood injury. There was no doubt that the atmosphere was highly charged. What then took place was that the doctor examined Williams and said he had a loose tooth. Then, at the request of the player, she cut his lip with a stitch cutter to cause an injury. Dr Chapman has admitted that the purpose was to justify his replacement."

Counsel for Dr Chapman said she admitted the majority of charges laid against her, but denied one of misconduct in relation to her reasons for telling match officials of Williams's loose tooth. The GMC panel, expected to sit for a fortnight, also learnt that Dr Chapman is recovering from a recent breast cancer operation.

Williams, initially banned for a year for his part in the cheating, eventually opted to make a complete disclosure of the facts to an independent disciplinary panel appointed by the Heineken Cup organisers and had his punishment cut by two-thirds. He returned to rugby with Quins late last year. Dean Richards, the director of rugby and chief architect of the scam, is serving a three-year ban – recently, there was a brief controversy over Worcester's decision to use him as a consultant in their search for a new coaching team – while one of the club's physiotherapists, Steph Brennan, lost a position with the England team as a result of his participation. In addition, the Harlequins chairman Charles Jillings resigned and Quins were fined more than £250,000.

Ospreys have appointed the 24-year-old British and Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones as their new captain, ahead of the current Wales skipper Ryan Jones. "This is about what's best for everyone," explained Scott Johnson, who is director of coaching at the Liberty Stadium. "Ryan has done a fantastic job over the last three years and his record with the region speaks for itself. However, holding both roles brings with it a tremendous workload that can take its toll, particularly going into a long season with a World Cup at the end of it. We feel it's in Ryan's best interest, and those of Ospreys and Wales, if he can focus on the national captaincy."

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