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Toulon defend Armitage over test result

Toulon have defended Steffon Armitage after the England flanker produced an "abnormal" doping test result.

Armitage was informed on Wednesday that he tested positive for the prohibited substance morphine after the Top 14 final defeat by Toulouse on June 9.

Toulon have issued a statement insisting the result was caused by approved painkillers and anti-inflammatories prescribed for back pain.

The French club stress that the 26-year-old "has absolutely not taken any illegal substance to improve his performance" and that the morphine is a natural side-effect of the painkillers.

"Toulon Rugby Club received a letter this Wednesday, July 25, 2012, from the French Rugby Federation reporting an 'abnormal' result from an anti-doping test taken by Steffon Armitage after the Top 14 final on June 9 at the Stade de France," read the statement.

"Before the game, Steffon Armitage took two tablets of paracetamol codeine, a medicine strictly authorised by the French Agency for the Fight against Doping (AFLD).

"Having suffered with back pain in the week leading up to the game, Steffon Armitage was given anti-inflammatories as well as paracetamol codeine (two to four tablets per day) for these pains. All of the medicines administered are authorised by the AFLD.

"The presence of morphine in Steffon Armitage's urine sample is explained by the fact that 10% of this medicine (paracetamol codeine) is converted naturally into morphine.

"Steffon Armitage has absolutely not taken any illegal substance to improve his performances, but solely a medicine strictly authorised by the AFLD and well known to all."

According to reports in France, Armitage will appear before the FFR anti-doping commission on August 21 and has been provisionally suspended pending the hearing.

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