CAS gives amateur rugby union player four-year ban for trying to import HGH
An amateur rugby union player who tried to import thousands of pounds' worth of human growth hormone in 2013 has seen his anti-doping ban doubled to four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Former Derby RFC captain Luke Willmott was caught when 180 vials of Jintropin, a brand of the potent body-building substance, in a parcel addressed to him were seized at the border, although subsequent testing revealed the substance was not actually HGH.
Despite that, Willmott was interviewed by UK Anti-Doping a year later and then charged by the Rugby Football Union in July 2014 of attempting to use and attempting to traffic a banned substance.
In April 2015, he was given a five-year ban by an RFU anti-doping panel but an RFU appeal panel reduced this to two years in January 2016.
That decision, however, was taken to CAS, sport's highest court, by the World Anti-Doping Agency and World Rugby, with the Swiss-based panel now setting Willmott's ban at four years.
Backdated to August 2013, the Nottingham-based Willmott is banned from all competitive sport until August 15, 2017.
In a press release, RFU anti-doping programme manager Stephen Watkins said: "Trafficking is a very serious offence under the world anti-doping code.
"As a union, we advocated for a ban of at least four years and support the increase from the decision of the RFU anti-doping appeal panel. Players should be aware that all doping offences will be treated seriously, irrespective of what level you play at."
UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead said: "Substances such as human growth hormone and steroids continue to pose a real and significant threat to both clean sport and to the health of our young people.
"Trafficking is a serious offence and, alongside our partners, we will look to impose the maximum sanction on individuals who choose to break the rules.
"Identifying and targeting the supply of serious substances, such as steroids and human growth hormone, is a critical part of preventing the growing problem of image and performance enhancing drugs.
"I encourage anyone with information or concerns about doping to talk to us in confidence via reportdoping.com."
The conclusion to the Willmott case comes a week after the RFU's annual anti-doping report revealed it was doing record numbers of tests but still not enough to test every player in the Aviva Premiership at least once a season.