The RFU Disciplinary panel has found the Bath trio guilty of ‘conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game’ (ie missing drugs tests) and has handed out a 9-month suspension.
Here is the full statement from the RFU:
“The RFU Disciplinary Panel today takes no pleasure in imposing its sanction as the players involved are decent young men.
The panel does have concerns about the advice the players received and their reliance on it during this process and it should be noted that an Academy player who was also implicated and received the same advice took a hair follicle test while Justin Harrison admitted his failure to take a test.
If the three players had taken the test there is no reason to suppose the results would not have been negative and no further action would have been taken.
We have distinguished the case from Harrison because his offending included inappropriate statements about Class A drugs and his conduct on May 10 was poor.
There are good policy reasons why those who fail to take tests and those who give positive tests should receive the same sanction.
There is also a need for a strong deterrent in this sanction. The starting point is a 15-month suspension and this has been reduced because of good character and concerns about the advice they received.
Therefore the sanction is a nine month-suspension each from playing, effective from June 1, 2009, the date they resigned from Bath Rugby, and they can play again on February 28, 2010.
The players have 14 days to appeal.”
It sounds to me like a reasonable decision, and that some sense was applied in considering the most suitable punishment. However, it still makes the 12-week gouging ban look slightly ridiculous, and we won’t go into the Tom Williams saga again!
What do you think?