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World Rugby Announces 2018 Anti-Doping Programme Outcomes

The 2018 testing programme comprised 2,236 tests at men’s and women’s sevens and 15s international representative level

The 2018 testing programme comprised 2,236 tests at men’s and women’s sevens and 15s international representative level

World Rugby has published details of its 2018 anti-doping programme as the international federation continues to prioritise values-based education and intelligent, risk-based testing.

The programme, overseen by its expert Anti-Doping Advisory Committee, saw World Rugby further its commitment to utilising all available tools for effective testing and analysis, while focusing on understanding rugby doping motivations and pitfalls and mitigating risk via innovative and effective influencer education and values promotion.

Intelligent, risk-based testing

The 2018 testing programme comprised 2,236 tests at men’s and women’s sevens and 15s international representative level, and is run in partnership with unions, national and regional anti-doping organisations, with 66 per cent conducted out of competition in line with the international federation’s intelligence and risk-based approach in elite rugby.

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An additional 259 samples were collected to supplement World Rugby’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme. Haematological and steroidal biological profiling continue to be mainstays of the scientific programme, along with a risk-focused sample storage and re-analysis programme which develops year-on year to maintain strong deterrence and the long-term capacity for the detection of historical doping.

There were four anti-doping rule violations within the elite sevens and 15s environment during the year. One player was sanctioned for four years for Drostanalone and another four-year sanction was handed-down for Metandienone and Stanozolol. Two further cases are pending.

World Rugby’s programme is in addition to the extensive programmes operated in rugby by regional and national anti-doping organisations and run in support of national unions, and competitions. The complete 2018 programme figures will be published by the World Anti-Doping Agency later this year.

Values-based Education

2018 was again a pivotal year for anti-doping globally and with record numbers of young people taking-up the sport globally, World Rugby focused on influencer and advocate-based digital media education within its wide-ranging Keep Rugby Clean values-based education programme.

Keep Rugby Clean education was delivered to 1500 players at World Rugby events, while a further 3318 players and support staff completed the mandatory e-learning modules. World Rugby also commenced the training of specialist union anti-doping educators in its regions as part of its preparation to support the implementation of WADA’s new International Standard for Education.

During 2019, World Rugby will be harnessing the power of Rugby World Cup 2019 as a major vehicle for awareness, education and engagement on key anti-doping matters (outlined here).

Ensuring players are in the conversation

Continuing World Rugby’s commitment to the voice of the players, former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip was appointed as a member of the anti-doping advisory committee, joining former Argentina captain Dr Felipe Contepomi as a player representative. Contepomi was a member of the WADA athlete committee for six years and is a long-serving member of the anti-doping advisory committee, having previously been a Keep Rugby Clean ambassador in his playing days.

Rugby World Cup 2019 preparation

While testing on Rugby World Cup teams is a constant over the four-year tournament cycle, preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 and the commencement of planning for the tournament event and pre-event programme started in earnest in 2018. World Rugby will partner with the Japanese Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) to deliver test services at the event and will co-ordinate its targeted testing programme with National Anti-Doping Organisations during the important pre-event period.

World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee Chairman John O’Driscoll said:

“As a sport, we must always be alive to the threat of doping and we remain committed to protecting clean athletes and maintaining a level playing field through intelligent testing and innovative values-based education.”

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World Rugby Anti-Doping General Manager Mike Earl added: “Our programme continues to evolve, but preventing doping is much more than just about testing. To be effective, we need to support players, develop positive values, and understand doping motivations whether intentional or accidental. A good programme not only makes it difficult to cheat, it develops players that don’t consider cheating to be part of their values.

“Our programme, which features two-thirds of tests taken out of competition, haematological and steroidal biological passports, storage and targeted additional analysis, reflects our commitment to utilising all available tools for effective testing and analysis in this important area.

“We take our role very seriously and strive to ensure that players at all levels of the game are encouraged and supported as clean athletes, and that information and education are provided for athletes, parents and other stakeholders.

“Rugby World Cup 2019, like previous Rugby World Cups, will provide such a strong opportunity to get our message out there and Keep Rugby Clean.”

Programme highlights

• Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 saw a targeted pre-event testing programme with 86 per cent of players tested pre-tournament (including 98 per cent of players from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core teams)
• 2,236 controls taken during the year with 66 per cent per cent taken out of competition
• 259 additional samples collected as part of World Rugby’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme
• Cases relating to four anti-doping rule violations conducted or pending
• Keep Rugby Clean education delivered to players and team personnel at Rugby World Cup Sevens, men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby U20 Championship and Trophy events
• Ongoing programme of strategic long-term storage of samples providing opportunities for future re-analysis
• Launch of #BeYourself anti-doping brand with large outreach programme at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco

Click here for information on the IRFU anti-doping programme