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English rugby tackling drugs despite positive test rise

There were 5 positive cases of players using banned substances such as cocaine or anabolic steroids.

FILE: Drugs testing across English rugby in 2013-14 has seen a slight increase in positive cases. Picture: EWN.

LONDON - Drugs testing across English rugby in 2013-14 has seen a slight increase in positive cases, a report showed on Thursday but rugby officials insist the sport remains free of systemic doping.

In total there were five positive cases of players using banned substances such as cocaine or anabolic steroids, the same as in the previous season, and one more case concerning the possession and trafficking of drugs.

The fourth Anti-Doping Annual Report for rugby in England, published on behalf of the Anti-Doping Advisory Group said testing last season comprised 536 blood and urine tests, the lowest number in the past five seasons.

There was a total of five cases in 2012-13.

Tests were taken in and out of competition, and included both targeted and random selections with five positive results from university to level one rugby.

Four more people were found to have tested positive for illicit drugs in separate tests.

"The higher number of adverse findings in the wider game serves as a reminder that the education of players, at all levels of the sport, on the topic of anti-doping and illicit drugs is an on-going and crucial task," said Richard Bryan, Rugby Director at the Rugby Players' Association and member of the Anti-Doping Advisory Group.

"This season's results again provide no indication of any systemic doping amongst the senior elite players in England, which is highly encouraging for the integrity of the professional game at the highest level."

Officials said more emphasis would also be placed on education with recent cases of younger players testing positive raising concern.

"The RFU continues to implement world-leading anti-doping, illicit drug and education programmes, using the best available resources and focussing on emerging trends," Rob Andrew, RFU Professional Rugby Director and chair of the Anti-doping Advisory Group said.

"As a sport, we take our responsibilities in this area very seriously. Last season has seen an increase in anti-doping rule violations, proving that smart detection and collaboration are key to a successful programme, together with increased targeted testing."