Table Tennis: Hodgson caught by glue ban

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ONE of England's leading junior players will be reported to the English Table Tennis Association after becoming the first player to be penalised under the new glue ban. Kevin Hodgson, the 14th-ranked junior from Cumbria, had his bat confiscated at Hereford at the weekend during the national junior trial finals.

The ban was introduced last month by the sport's governing body, the International Table Tennis Federation, following a report from the Scottish chemist Keith Powell which outlined instances of glue-sniffing by players. It warned of the health hazards of passive inhalation of solvents.

Players sit courtside, attaching rubbers to the blades of their bats with vulcanising fluids and other adhesives. If done just before play, it increases the speed of ball off bat. In response to the ban the ETTA outlawed glueing up within 24 hours of a tournament.

A tip-off that Hodgson might have been contravening the 24-hour rule was made to tournament referee Phil Gower. 'Someone asked me to look. The bat sounded noisy (as it does when it has been recently glued up) and I had a look at the rubber, pulling it back. The blade was dry and the rubber was wet. Whilst I couldn't say he had been glueing up I was suspicious. To be fair to other players I confiscated the bat,' Gower said.

Hodgson reportedly claimed he had glued his bat at 11.0 the previous day. The case highlights the problems in administering the new rule, and the ETTA may seek to supplement it. The ITTF has recommended glueing up in one supervised area. The ETTA is thought to favour the use of self- adhesive rubbers only.