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RFU to protect quintet

The Rugby Football Union has urged against any attempt to expose the five players at Aviva Premiership clubs who have tested positive for recreational drug use.

The positive results were uncovered by the RFU's illicit drugs programme, which conducts out of competition tests on Premiership players for cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines only.

Under the terms of the programme, which is run in addition to the WADA-approved anti-doping testing, the five players remain anonymous as they are first-time offenders.

Instead, they have received treatment and a fine of £1,000 or £5,000 depending on whether they are an academy or senior player. Players from 18-years-old upwards undergo testing.

The RFU's anti-doping and illicit drugs programme manager Stephen Watkins insists the quintet have been sufficiently punished and should not be named publicly.

"I hope people don't try to root around and find out who the players are because they've made a mistake, but have been treated and paid their fines," Watkins said.

"Of the players who tested positive, no one has indicated long-term use. They have all been one-off, making serious errors of judgement.

"Once they have gone through the treatment process, I take over and issue a fine.

"The players who have all been fined view it as a massive fine, a huge amount to pay out in one go.

"We then target-test them and none of them have failed repeated testing."

Watkins defends the anonymity of the five players and stresses there is no second chance.

"The illicit programme is based much more on welfare and the health of the game," Watkins said.

"The reason for the anonymity is that it's viewed as a health issue.

"If a player fails another test 18 months after failing the first, then that will go public. You don't get a second chance.

"If you fail again, that's it. You'll be banned, fined and your name will be in the public domain.

"I hope people don't try to root around and find out who the players are because they've made a mistake, but have been treated and paid their fines."

It is the first time since the illicit drugs programme was introduced for the 2009-10 season that there have been violations of the policy.

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