Widespread testing during Rugby World Cup Sevens in anti-doping campaign

By Michael Hudson

Around 86 per cent of players at San Francisco’s Rugby World Cup Sevens were tested in World Rugby’s anti-doping programme during 2018, as the governing announced results of its campaign against performance-enhancing substances in rugby.

World Rugby says there were four cases of anti-doping rule violations. The 2018 testing programme involved 2,236 tests carried across men’s and women’s sevens and 15s international representative level and the programme was run in collaboration with unions, national and regional anti-doping organisations.

One of the highlights of the programme was the targeted pre-event testing programme at the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 with 86 per cent of players tested pre-tournament (including 98 per cent of players from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core teams).

There was also the launch of #BeYourself anti-doping brand with a large outreach programme in San Francisco.

Four players were found guilty of violating anti-doping rules through the use of anabolic steroids for physique and performance enhancement. One player was banned for four years for using Drostanalone. Another four-year ban was given to a player caught using Metandienone and Stanozolol while the remaining two cases are pending. Haematological and steroidal biological profiling continue to be mainstays of the scientific programme.

World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee Chairman John O’Driscoll said the sport must be vigilant to the threat of doping and that a level playing ground for all players must be maintained.

“As a sport, we must always be alive to the threat of doping and we remain committed to protecting clean athletes and maintaining a level playing field through intelligent testing and innovative values-based education.”

Anti-doping general manager Mike Earl said prevention of doping is more than just testing players and that there is a need to support players and understand their doping intentions.

“Our programme continues to evolve, but preventing doping is much more than just about testing,” said Earl. “To be effective, we need to support players, develop positive values, and understand doping motivations whether intentional or accidental. A good programme not only makes it difficult to cheat, it develops players that don’t consider cheating to be part of their values.

“Our programme, which features two-thirds of tests taken out of competition, haematological and steroidal biological passports, storage and targeted additional analysis, reflects our commitment to utilising all available tools for effective testing and analysis in this important area.

“We take our role very seriously and strive to ensure that players at all levels of the game are encouraged and supported as clean athletes, and that information and education are provided for athletes, parents and other stakeholders.”

World rugby will continue to use the Keep Rugby Clean anti-doping campaign in promoting and protecting rugby from doping. Keep Rugby Clean has been front and centre in major events like the rugby sevens event at the Olympics and Rugby World Cup 2015.

Keep Rugby Clean education has also been made available to support staff with many completing the mandatory e-learning modules. World Rugby also commenced the training of specialist union anti-doping educators in its regions as part of its preparation to support the implementation of Wada’s new International Standard for Education.

Main photo: Mike Earl. Credit” World Rugby

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