The Rugby Union career of Karmichael Hunt has been spared by a Southport Magistrates Court. However, Hunt will be fined $30,000 and suspended for six weeks by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Queensland Reds.
Magistrate Pirie said your offending of course will become well known and well broadcast and be a disappointment to many including your legions of fans and added but hopefully you also send a message of admitting mistakes and learning from them.
Hunt's defense lawyer Alastair McDougall his client has to now deal with the fact that his two young daughters and soon to be third young daughter are going to grow up with the knowledge that their father has broken the law.
Sergeant Johnson told the court Hunt sought out Touma for cocaine on September 1, 8, 27 and October 3. Hunt pleaded guilty to four charges of cocaine possession. He will be stood down one of the club's vice-captains though he will be available to play again for the Reds in round eight of Super Rugby. Hunt will also undergo a drug treatment and rehabilitation program and has been asked to be placed on a monitored and targeted drug testing program.
In an ARU statement, Hunt remarked he made a terrible mistake last year and have no one but himself to blame for this situation. Karmichael Hunt added he is genuinely sorry for the distress he has caused to his family, friends, teammates, Reds members, sponsors, fans and the wider rugby and sporting community in Queensland and beyond. He went on to remark that he intends to work through the education and rehabilitation program and will return to the game in a way that sends a clear message to sports fans of all ages that the use of illicit substances has no place in sport. The Queensland Reds' player also said he is grateful for the support he had received from Queensland rugby over the past few weeks and intend to repay their loyalty through his future actions on and off the field.
Hunt has been appropriately sanctioned, said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver. The ARU chief executive said we are extremely disappointed in Karmichael's actions as illicit substances have no place in rugby and however we acknowledge that he is sincerely remorseful and has cooperated with the investigation and our integrity enquires throughout this process. Pulver also said Karmichael has also accepted the penalty and consequences of his actions and understands the requirements of a professional athlete and the expectations of our code.
Hunt will officially return to training on March 23 ahead of the Reds' match against the Rebels in Melbourne and is allowed to train at the Reds' Ballymore facility while suspended but only when the club's main squad is not training.
In a statement, Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael said each individual will have their own perspective and opinion on this issue and this specific case based on their personal life experience. He added in arriving at these penalties we have all been acutely mindful of our responsibilities to sport and the wider community, as well as the long-term interests of the game, our stakeholders and our fans.