28 Feb 2009

Matt Stevens banned for 2 years for using cocaine

7:03 am on 28 February 2009

The England rugby prop Matt Stevens has been banned for two years after a routine doping test showed he had used cocaine.

Stevens failed the test after playing a Heineken Cup match for Bath against Glasgow in December and was provisionally suspended in January, pending today's independent judicial committee hearing in Glasgow.

A European Rugby Cup statement says after considering the evidence, and in light of Stevens' admissions, the committee determined that an anti-doping rule violation had occurred in that the player's sample had contained benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, which are metabolites of cocaine.

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant and is a prohibited substance under both the Heineken Cup's anti-doping programme and Word Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) code.

The South African-born 26-year-old, who has played 32 times for England including every match at the 2007 World Cup, was removed from the RFU's Elite Player Squad when the doping violation came to light.

Stevens admitted at the time he was attending counselling sessions for a drug problem.

Stevens, who declined his right to have his B sample tested, will be ineligible from all rugby related activities until January 2011.