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IRB delivers record drug testing programme

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In 2005 the IRB conducted a record total of 1129 anti doping tests at international level in a testing programme that included senior, age grade and Sevens representative teams. The figure represents the largest annual testing programme carried out to date, with a 300 test increase compared to 2004.


Over 57 percent of the tests conducted where conducted out-of-competition, with just three anti doping rule violations recorded overall from the testing conducted under the IRB’s jurisdiction.


IRB Anti Doping Manager, Tim Ricketts said: ‘The IRB continues to progress forward in the delivery of its testing programmes in order to ensure that all players that participate in IRB tournaments do so drug free.’


The high level of testing conducted across Rugby Sevens resulted in a drug free Rugby World Cup Sevens Tournament in 2005. This result further supported the IRB’s strong proposal to the International Olympic Committee to have Rugby Sevens accepted into the Olympic sports programme.


In 2006 the IRB will broaden its catchment net for testing. It will take in additional global regional tournaments, international women’s rugby and the new Tier 2 tournaments around the world that are part of the IRB’s US$ 50 million Strategic Investment initiatives for the Game’s development. Testing will also increase at the remaining Rugby World Cup 2007 qualifiers along with out-of-competition tests.


The substances players tested positive for under the IRB’s programme were Cannabis (Ukraine in European Nations Cup, 6 month sanction), Hydrochlorothiazide (Kenya Sevens, out-of-competition, 2 year sanction) and Finasteride (out-of-competition, sanction and Union to be announced).


Below international level there were 68 adverse analytical findings returned from the several thousand tests carried out under the jurisdiction of IRB Member Unions. Of these, 49 anti-doping rule violations have been recorded to date. The other 19 results relate to cases which are currently under investigation, or went no further due to the player having a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption in place for the substance tested positive.


Ricketts continued: ‘Member Unions and National Anti Doping Agencies must continue to educate players at the non-international end of the game to ensure the message gets down the chain. Players can’t ignore the fact that if they play the game they may be subject to doping control and they are strictly liable for any prohibited substance found in their system.’


The IRB will also continue to promote its ‘Keep Rugby Clean’ campaign in 2006 in partnership with WADA. This campaign is supported by high profile players Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Schalk Burger (South Africa), George Gregan (Australia) and Brian Lima (Samoa) and further enhances the IRB’s commitment to a drug free and healthy game.

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