Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

London — A South African playing second-tier rugby union in England has been banned from all sport for four years by British anti-doping authorities after testing positive for three banned steroids, it was announced on Wednesday.

UK Anti-Doping said Brandon Staples, a flanker with Championship side Yorkshire Carnegie, failed tests for metandienone, dehydrochloromethyl-Testosterone and stanozolol — the substance that saw Canada sprinter Ben Johnston stripped of his 100m gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Staples produced an adverse finding in a urine sample taken after a training session on August 9. He is the first player in English professional rugby union to fail a drugs test for a performance-enhancing substance since 2011.

He claimed his positive test was a result of consuming a nutritional drink in SA while he was on holiday in May 2017. An independent national antidoping panel still suspended him until September 6 2021.

The ban was originally imposed last November but details were only made public on Wednesday after Staples failed to have his suspension overturned on appeal.

Stephen Watkins, RFU antidoping and illicit drugs programme manager, said: "This is the first failed test for a performance-enhancing substance in English professional rugby since 2011 and a reminder to all that we cannot be complacent in our efforts to keep rugby a clean sport."

UK Anti-Doping CEO Nicole Sapstead stressed that all athletes competed under a rule of "strict liability" and were "solely responsible "for the substances found in their bodies.

Sapstead added: "The market for supplements, particularly those purchased online, has grown significantly in recent years and it is the duty of each athlete to check all ingredients against [the World Anti-Doping Agency’s] prohibited list."