Shaun Cleary, who played hooker for Maesteg Harlequins, has been suspended by the Welsh National Anti-Doping Panel for a doping offence. Shaun becomes the 11th Welsh rugby player to be suspended. He received a suspension from all sport for a period of two years after testing positive for cocaine.
Shaun was tested after a pre-season friendly on August 18 between the Harlequins and Bridgend Ravens. His ban will run from September 11 last year to September 10, 2017. The Maesteg Harlequins hooker admitted to the violation immediately and tried to avoid punishment by claiming he was not at fault, according to a report by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). Shaun remarked he enjoyed a night out in Maesteg after a game on August 15 during which he drank alcohol and took cocaine on ‘a few occasions’. Shaun added he took the cocaine purely for recreational purposes as he wanted to have a good night out.
Cleary admitted he knew the substance could remain in the body for some time after ingestion but remarked he gave no thought to the consequences. The Welsh rugby player was caught when what he thought would be a training session on August 18 turned out to be a match and he along with many others was chosen to provide a random urine sample.
Cleary wrote an email to UKAD in response to his positive test and said this has been a salutary lesson for him. The player remarked he is devastated that I may have brought embarrassment on himself, his family, and his teammates. Shaun Cleary added he had already missed close to two years out of the last four due to serious injuries including a snapped Achilles tendon and a neck injury.
UKAD director of legal, Graham Arthur remarked although Cleary used cocaine three days before he played, cocaine was still in his system when he played. Arthur added cocaine is banned from sport and Athletes are solely responsible for what is in their system, regardless of whether there is an intention to cheat or not and went on to add that sportspeople have to be aware that using cocaine at any time will put them at great risk of breaking the anti-doping rules and receiving a long ban.
Welsh Rugby Union executive Martyn Phillips said this case serves as a strong warning to everyone in the game that non-compliance with anti-doping rules carries grave consequences. Phillips added whether intentional, or inadvertent, players have a responsibility to themselves, to each other, to their clubs and to the sport to act within the rules and spirit of the game and also remarked we work closely with UK Anti-Doping and fully adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code.
The Welsh Rugby Union executive also said there is no room in the code for carelessness or not knowing, and players are encouraged to check the anti-doping section on the WRU website which also includes advice regarding over-the-shelf medication and supplements and also said that many of the ADRV findings are intelligence-led and we will be relentless in working with UKAD to follow up leads that out players who dope in Welsh rugby.