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Rugby league player banned and released over cocaine use

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has today confirmed that Dewsbury Rams and Batley Bulldogs player Tobias Richardson received a three-month ban from all sport following an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) for the presence of a Prohibited Substance in his urine Sample. At the time of this announcement, the ban has been served and the player is free to resume participation in sport.

On 2 July 2023, UKAD collected an In-Competition urine Sample from Mr Richardson at a game between Midlands Hurricanes and Dewsbury Rams. Analysis of Mr Richardon’s urine Sample returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for cocaine and its Metabolite, benzoylecgonine.

Cocaine is listed under section S6A of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2023 Prohibited List as a stimulant. It is a non-Specified Substance that is prohibited In-Competition only. The WADA 2023 Prohibited List also identifies cocaine as a ‘Substance of Abuse’.

The UK Anti-Doping Rules (ADR), which implement the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code for sports in the UK, set out specific rules on how ADRVs relating to Substances of Abuse should be managed. Shorter bans of three months are available for such substances when found In-Competition if their ingestion takes place Out-of-Competition and in a context unrelated to sport performance.

On 17 August 2023, UKAD notified Mr Richardson that he may have committed ADRVs in violation of the ADR. Mr Richardson was also provisionally suspended from this date.

On 22 August 2023, Mr Richardson admitted that he had taken cocaine and that he had ingested it recreationally while in a social setting during the Out-of-Competition period on Friday 30 June 2023. UKAD instructed a scientific expert to examine whether the concentration of cocaine and benzoylecgonine detected in Mr Richardson’s Sample was consistent with the explanation he provided. The scientific expert’s opinion was that the Athlete’s explanation – that the cocaine had likely been consumed during the Out-of-Competition period – was scientifically plausible.

Mr Richardson was charged by UKAD on 12 October 2023 with the commission of an ADRV under ADR Article 2.1 (Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in an Athletes Sample). The player responded on 23 October 2023 accepting the charge and agreeing to the period of Ineligibility of three months asserted by UKAD.

Mr Richardson has been afforded credit for the time he has spent provisionally suspended. His period of Ineligibility was lifted on 16 November 2023.

Speaking on the case, UKAD Director of Operations, Hamish Coffey said: “Cocaine is prohibited in sport. It’s a harmful drug and violates the spirit of sport. The rules are clear on substances of abuse. Athletes risk their careers and their reputations by using cocaine.”

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