posted on Dec, 30 2004 @ 08:03 AM
The Rugby Football League have made it clear they will step up their drugs education programme after two Great Britain internationals were fined on
Thursday for producing positive tests. Leeds pair Keith Senior and Ryan Bailey were both fined 1,500 and severely reprimanded after testing positive
for the banned stimulant ephedrine. They were also ordered to pay 700 costs - and a third player, Gateshead's Steve Rutherford, was also reprimanded
for the same offence at a hearing.
All three, however, had declared their use of the substance before being tested towards the end of the 2004 season - and the RFL accepted they did not
use it to enhance performance. The trio were in fact suffering from illness. Ephedrine - which makes the heart beat faster and increases blood
pressure, allowing athletes to avoid fatigue - can be found in many over-the-counter cold remedies and supplements.
The World Anti-Doping Agency include it on their prohibited list but classify it as one of their 'specified substances' which 'are particularly
susceptible to unintentional anti-doping rule violations'. As it can be taken unintentionally quite easily, WADA recommend a warning and reprimand but
not necessarily a ban for a first offence. The RFL have worked hard to clean up rugby league's image since a report by UK Sport in 2002 revealed it
had the worst doping record in Britain.
But with the use of supplements still common in the game, the RFL are to increase their drugs awareness campaign. Executive chairman Richard Lewis
said: "These cases do not represent a widespread problem in rugby league, but we do feel it is important to clarify issues relating to ephedrine so
that all players and relevant personnel have the maximum amount of information to guide them in this important area."
Bailey and Senior were key members of the Leeds side which won the Super League last season, and both started in October's Grand Final against
Bradford. Prop forward Bailey got his career back on track in 2004 after serving time in a young offenders' institute last year. Centre Senior was
recently named in the world team of the year.
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: "The RFL have dealt with this matter thoroughly and professionally, and there are clear lessons to be
learned for all.
"The Leeds club have an excellent record of awareness of drugs and doping control issues, and we will support any new education and information
initiatives which the RFL seek to introduce."