Thursday, 03 December 2020

Hawks ‘committed’ to anti-drugs fight

HENLEY Rugby Club says it is committed to stamping out drug abuse after a second player failed an anti-doping test.

HENLEY Rugby Club says it is committed to stamping out drug abuse after a second player failed an anti-doping test.

Richard Briggs, who left the club at the end of last season, was banned for two years on Monday after testing positive for anabolic steroids.

He admitted taking two banned substances during the off season to help him lose weight and cope with pain following knee surgery.

Briggs was banned following a random test by a Hawks’ physiotherapist on July 16 — almost three months after fly-half James Comben received a six-month doping suspension.

In a statement on behalf of the club, director of rugby Mike Poulson said: “Everyone involved at Henley Hawks is completely committed to eradicating any form of drug abuse from our game.

“We believe he [Briggs] has made a serious mistake of judgement, which no doubt will affect him beyond his two-year suspension.”

Briggs, 32, played 27 times for the Hawks last season, scoring 14 tries in their title-winning campaign to gain promotion to National League 1.

He joined the Hawks from Worthing in July 2012 and has played 174 games in his career, scoring 65 tries.

Briggs agreed to his case being heard by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel last month without attending.

A statement submitted to the panel on his behalf said he wanted to lose weight for a holiday to Cornwall.

It said: “He wanted to lose body fat ahead of the holiday, entirely for appearance reasons.

“As someone who struggled with the willpower needed for a strict diet, he felt a supplement might achieve the results he was looking for.”

Briggs approached someone involved in bodybuilding who recommended and supplied him with T-5, a substance which contains Oxandrolone.

He took the pills three times a day from late May until sometime around June 24 but he did not research its ingredients to check if it was banned.

Briggs’ statement said he had also experienced “significant discomfort” in his left knee following surgery and that conventional methods of pain relief were unsuccessful.

The player went back to his supplier who suggested taking NPP, which he claimed would lubricate the joint and relieve the pain.

Briggs took this by injection around June 28, knowing that it contained an anabolic steroid.

The disciplinary panel banned the PE teacher and rugby coach until August 9, 2015. The ruling prohibits him from coaching or managing any school team training for an RFU-authorised event.

A plea by Briggs to amend this was rejected and his employer and Surrey County Council have been informed.

In April, former teammate Comben tested positive for methylhexaneamine following a match for the Wasps A team against Exeter Braves on November 26 last year.

The first team player was banned for six months after he admitted he had taken a product to help him lose weight so he could start a modelling career but claimed he was unaware of what it contained.

The governing body decided not to impose the minimum two-year ban, saying it did not believe he had been trying to improve his performance on the pitch.

The Hawks are currently ninth in the league after suffering their first home defeat since January 2012 on Saturday, going down 17-10 to Old Albanians.

* What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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