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Drug ban for Spelman's rugby son

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's teenage son Jonathan has been suspended from playing rugby for 21 months after admitting that he took banned substances, the sport's ruling body has confirmed.

The Rugby Football Union announced the 17-year-old is barred from taking part in any match or tournament until October 19 2013.

Jonathan admitted taking a number of drugs, including anabolic steroids and a growth hormone, when he appeared before an independent disciplinary tribunal on March 26.

In February the Spelman family tried to suppress details about the case being published through a High Court injunction but later issued a statement saying Jonathan was "deeply sorry" for taking the substances.

Panel chairman Christopher Quinlan QC said: "In fixing the appropriate period of suspension, the tribunal had regard to all the relevant matters advanced during the course of the hearing, including the player's youth, immaturity and admissions.

"It therefore reduced by three months the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility of two years and imposed a period of ineligibility (suspension) of 21 months."

An appeal has been lodged and will be heard at a date to be confirmed.

The injunction remained in place until March 2 to give the 17-year-old, who was suing through his mother and father Mark, an opportunity to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the judge's decision but no application was made.

In a joint statement later that day, Mrs Spelman and her husband said the ex-England under-16 rugby player had been trying to speed up his recovery from a serious injury.

In a fresh statement, the Cabinet minister and her husband said: "Our son remains very sorry for his mistakes. Our prime concern now is to support Jonny with his studies and coping with the ban."

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