The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has doubled the two-year ban imposed on Luke Willmott, a rugby union player who was previously banned in 2016.

Willmott, from Arnold in Nottingham, was initially banned for five years by an independent Rugby Football Union (RFU) Anti-Doping Panel, for attempted trafficking of Human Growth Hormone (hGH). The amateur rugby union player, who was previously registered with Derby RFC, appealed against the decision and his ban was reduced to two years by an independent appeal panel. An appeal against this decision was made in February 2017 to the CAS by World Rugby and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after which the highest court of sports announced its decision. A sanction of four years was subsequently agreed by World Rugby, WADA, the RFU, and Willmott.

The case dates back to June 2013 when 180 vials of “Jintoprin”, which is a commercial name for HGH, were seized at the border. This package was addressed to Luke Willmott, who at the time was Captain of Derby RFC.

UK Anti-Doping interviewed Willmott On July 3, 2014. Willmott was charged by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on July 23, 2014 with having committed an Anti-Doping Rule Violation for “Use or Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance” pursuant to World Rugby Regulation 21.2.2. The explanation of Willmott resulted in an additional charge under World Rugby Regulation 21.2.7, “Trafficking or Attempted Trafficking in any Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method” being brought. The case was then heard by a panel convened by the Rugby Football Union.

UKAD Director of Operations, Pat Myhill, had then remarked that the Willmott case is an example of how important our work with law enforcement partners is. Myhill added we by intercepting this package were able to stop the potential supply of prohibited substances into the United Kingdom. Myhill went on to add that a crucial aspect of this case is that the end user thought they were buying Human Growth Hormone (HGH) but it was determined that the substance was not HGH after analysis by the Drug Control Centre.

  The UKAD Director of Operations also had remarked then that this is increasingly common, especially in relation to the production and supply of illicit substances such as HGH and steroids and also had commented that his is a major concern to UKAD, as not only is it a huge risk to clean sport, but it is a very significant risk to health.

UKAD Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead, remarked after the CAS verdict that substances such as human growth hormone and steroids continue to pose a real and significant threat to both clean sport and to the health of our young people. Sapstead also added that trafficking is a serious offence and, alongside our partners, we will look to impose the maximum sanction on individuals who choose to break the rules. UKAD Chief Executive also said that identifying and targeting the supply of serious substances, such as steroids and human growth hormone, is a critical part of preventing the growing problem of image and performance enhancing drugs.

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