Former Yorkshire Carnegie forward Brandon Staples has been banned from all sport for four years after losing his appeal against a doping charge.
The 21-year-old back-row argued that he had unintentionally ingested three banned steroids in a protein drink while on holiday in his native South Africa last summer, but an independent panel rejected his appeal due to a lack of evidence.
The second-tier club terminated Staples contract after his initial doping hearing in November.
“We are naturally very disappointed with the actions of Brandon Staples, who has let himself and everyone at the club down,” said Carnegie chief executive Gary Hetherington.
“The four-year suspension sends a stark warning to all professional sportspeople.”
Rugby Football Union anti-doping chief Stephen Watkins said it was the first failed test for a performance-enhancing banned substance since 2011, calling it “a reminder to all that we cannot be complacent in our efforts to keep rugby a clean sport”.
Staples ban is backdated to the start of his provisional suspension, meaning that it runs until 6 September 2021, and effectively leaves his sporting career in ruins.
He attempted to reduce the ban to two years on the grounds that he had ingested the steroids – Dehydrochloromethyl-Testosterone, Metandienone and Stanozolol – unintentionally.
But the independent national anti-doping panel ruled that the original tribunal had been right to conclude that Staples had not corroborated his claim.
Appeal tribunal chairman Robert Englehart QC wrote: “Ultimately the critical factor in the present case was that there was simply no evidence at all to link the steroids found in Mr Stapless system to the Nitro-Tech protein shake advanced, albeit wholly speculatively, by Mr Staples as the source.”