Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Ex-Hawks player banned

A FORMER Henley Rugby Club player has been banned from the sport for two years after failing a drugs test

A FORMER Henley Rugby Club player has been banned from the sport for two years after failing a drugs test.

Lock Connor Stapley, 24, was on the books of the Hawks when he tested positive for traces of steroids in August.

Stapley claimed he thought he had taken a supplement recommended to him by his brother to help him lose weight and believed it did not contain any illegal substances. But metabolites of prohibited steroids methandienone and mesterolone were found in his sample after players had a routine out-of-competition test on August 25. He was suspended on September 23. Now, following a Rugby Football Union panel hearing, he has been banned for two years with effect from the date of his suspension.

The three-man panel agreed unanimously that the player had not taken the substances intentionally.

Stapley, who no longer plays for Henley, told the hearing in March how he came to be tested positive.

He explained that he had told his brother Robbie, who left Henley Rugby Club in December, that he had put on weight and his brother recommended a supplement called “T5 fat strippers”.

He researched the product online and then ordered some via a friend of his brother. He took the capsules once per day from the end of July to early September but sometimes forgot.

When he provided the doping sample, Stapley completed the list of supplements he was taking as required and included “T5s”.

Even when he received notification of the test results he did not think the capsules were the cause.

Stapley said he was unaware the supplements could contain substances not listed as ingredients.

He said his only knowledge of doping came from the media and he had not received any education from the club or anyone else.

The panel decided Stapley “genuinely believed” there was no significant risk of an anti-doping violation from taking the capsules.

The judgement said: “While he had been naive in trusting his brother’s friend in a manner which the panel found objectively incredulous, it believed Mr Stapley’s account.”

Stapley’s last game for Henley was with the Bulls, the club’s second team, on September 19 when he captained them against Heathens in a Zoo Shield Division One fixture. He will be able to play rugby again from September 24 next year.

In a statement, the Hawks’ management committee said it was “with regret” they learned about Stapley’s offence.

“Henley RFC does not, under any circumstances, condone such actions and registered players are made aware of the dangers of doing so and the serious consequences of breaking these regulations,” it said.

“Henley RFC takes its anti-doping obligations seriously and fully supports the RFU anti-doping programme. Players are also made aware that they are personally responsible for the consumption of banned substances.”

Stapley is the third Henley player in four years to be banned for failing a drugs test.

In July 2013 winger Richard Briggs tested positive for anabolic steroids. He admitted his offence and was banned for two years.

Eight months earlier fly-half James Comben, who still plays for the Hawks, was banned for six months after testing positive for methylhexaneamine following a match for the Wasps A team against Exeter Braves.

He said he had taken a product to help him lose weight so he could become a model and claimed he didn’t know what it contained.

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