Former Australia rugby captain banned after failing cocaine tests

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Former Wallabies captain James Slipper has been handed a two-month ban and a £14,000 fine after testing positive for cocaine.

The prop, who was skipper of the Queensland Reds until the sanction, was banned by a tribunal after testing positive for the drug for a second time earlier this month.

A first positive test result for the drug in February had remained confidential under Rugby Australia’s health and welfare rules.

The head of Australian rugby’s governing body said it was “extremely disappointed” to be in a situation where one of its most senior players had tested positive for the drug.

In a post on Twitter, the 28-year-old said he apologised “unreservedly” and took “full responsibility” for his actions”.

He said: “I have been suffering wellness issues including depression for a year and have been receiving professional assistance for the last few months.

“The advice is I will make a speedy and total recovery.

“In no way do my personal circumstances excuse my actions but I recognise now that I was not coping and that I need to properly address these wellness issues.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and apologise unreservedly.

“There is no place for illicit drugs in sport.”

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle announced on Thursday that Slipper had been stood down and was being supported by the body.

She said: “We are extremely disappointed to be in this position today with one of our most senior international players having submitted two positive tests for cocaine.

“We are fully aware that James is dealing with very significant personal issues and we have been working with him since February on these matters.

“We are ensuring that James is receiving full help and support, including specialist medical treatment.

“James has expressed his sincere remorse for his actions and for placing himself, Rugby Australia and the Reds in this very difficult situation.”

Slipper made his international debut against England in 2010 and has 74 caps to his name.

He captained the Wallabies in their victory over the USA in Chicago in September 2015 and became the country’s most-capped prop the same year.

Cocaine is a schedule one drug in Australia and possession can result in a substantial fine or a prison sentence.

As well as the two-month ban, Slipper was handed a 27,500 Australian dollar (£14,000) fine.

Slipper first failed a drugs test in February, although the results were kept private in accordance with Rugby Australia’s illicit drugs policy.

He was referred to the body’s integrity unit, which treats first-time breaches as a “health and welfare issue”, and put in a targeted testing pool.

He failed another test in May, triggering a mandatory period of ineligibility and referral to Rugby Australia’s drugs tribunal.

A panel including a judge from the supreme court of New South Wales heard the case last Thursday, with Slipper joining proceedings by phone.

Rugby Australia said the panel had considered the player’s “personal circumstances, his service to club and country and previous good character” before delivering their determination.

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