England prop fails drugs test
Matt Stevens is immediately suspended after admitting to a drugs problem.
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2009 20:18 GMT

Matt Stevens faces a lengthy ban [GALLO/GETTY]
England prop forward Matt Stevens was suspended for doping after admitting to taking recreational drugs and will likely miss the Six Nations championship.

Although he did not reveal what he had taken, Stevens said he took the substances while he was out with friends and it became a problem which had mounted.

He tested positive following Bath's European Cup match against Glasgow Warriors in December 2008.

The England Rugby Football Union and Bath issued statements saying he had been provisionally suspended pending a full hearing. He will at least miss the early games of the Six Nations, which starts February 7, if not the whole championship.

"I was tested for a prohibited substance but it's not performance enhancing, so you can take what you want from that,'' Stevens said.

"It's pretty distressing talking about this. When you think about how much time people have put into my career and I have thrown it away.

"Like any drug problem, you don't know it's happening and then it mounts up and before you know it you have a problem and an illness.''

Cut from squad

The RFU said Stevens had been taken out of England's Elite Player Squad travelling to a training camp in Portugal on Sunday and would not be involved in the squad until the resolution of the case.

Bath said the procedure for potential doping offenses was clearly laid out in both the player's contract and the European Rugby Cup Regulations.

"The player is immediately suspended from competition and has been suspended by Bath Rugby until the case is resolved,'' the statement said.

"Bath Rugby condemns the use of prohibited substances as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list.''

Damien Hopley, a former England international who is chief executive of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, said he never expected Stevens to get involved in drugs.

"We are shocked by this news, which is very out of character for Matt,'' Hopley said.

"He had built a reputation as a fine ambassador for the game, who does a tremendous amount of voluntary work for a number of charities and good causes.

"We will be doing everything we can to provide Matt with the support he needs at this very difficult time. The PRA and our members strongly condemn the use of performance-enhancing or recreational drugs, and fully support the RFU and IRB anti-doping regulations.''

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