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RFU releases anti-doping report

Four rugby players tested positive for illicit drugs in England last season, with one player found to be trafficking banned substances.

The RFU has published its fourth Anti-Doping Annual Report for rugby in England, confirming five further positive tests for banned substances in the 2013-14 campaign.

Players from university to elite level were tested at random, with 536 tests conducted in total, while 481 tests were carried out separately as part of the RFU's illicit drugs programme.

The RFU is treating the positive tests for illicit drugs as confidential, but confirmed those falling foul of the random testing were fined and given access to assessment, rehabilitation and counselling.

Rob Andrew, the RFU's professional rugby director who chairs the Anti-Doping Advisory Group, said increased emphasis on educating clubs and players form the bedrock of work to stamp out illicit and banned substance abuse in rugby.

"As a sport we take our responsibilities in this area very seriously," said Andrew.

"The RFU continues to implement world-leading anti-doping, illicit drug and education programmes, using the best available resources and focussing on emerging trends.

"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."

The RFU and Leeds Beckett University are conducting research into the use of performance and image enhancing substances in male adolescent players.

The Rugby Players' Association (RPA) rugby director Richard Bryan praised the hard work from English authorities in tackling drugs in the sport.

"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," said Bryan.

"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."

Phil Winstanley, the rugby director at Premiership Rugby, said English bosses must continue to back investment into initiatives aimed at underlining the risks attached to banned substances, targeting youngsters especially.

"It is our firm belief that continued investment is required, particularly with young impressionable players who strive to become professional rugby players and that more education and further research, in addition to the testing programme, are essential components of this programme," said Winstanley.

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