Second-tier rugby player gets four-year ban for steroids

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.

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“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.”

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