The future stars of world rugby have united to promote the #KeepRugbyClean anti-doping education programme at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016.
All 340 players, along with team management, match officials and tournament staff at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester, England will wear Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts in a sign of support and, as role models, to provide an educational message to the next generation of players worldwide.
A feature at all World Rugby events, Keep Rugby Clean Day is a key education strategy to deter doping, assist players to make the right decisions and promote the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. A new education video, aimed at further educating young players about World Rugby’s testing process, was also launched online and on social media, aimed at the next generation.
Keep Rugby Clean is recognised by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as a leading anti-doping education programme, with its outreach format a mandatory component of all World Rugby tournaments, supporting more than 13,000 players and team management since its launch in 2005.
It also aims to assist players and support staff understand their responsibilities when it comes to competing clean and highlight the health and career dangers of taking shortcuts to make it to the top.
World Rugby Anti-Doping General Manager Mike Earl said: “We are passionate about keeping our sport clean. The Keep Rugby Clean initiative continues to unite the entire sport in the fight against doping. “The primary focus of the campaign is education and information, which helps encourage players to make informed, healthy and ethical decisions as they progress through their careers to what we hope is the very elite of the game. The World Rugby U20 Championship is a great platform to educate the future stars of the game about the pitfalls associated with doping.
“We are delighted that all the teams are united in support of the programme and would like to thank them for the time that they will invest during the tournament in spreading what is a very important message and providing a strong anti-doping message, not just in rugby, but to wider society.”
At the U20 Championship, World Rugby carry out an extensive anti-doping programme, with all teams being tested out of competition prior to arriving at the tournament, with tests being conducted in-competition by UK Anti-Doping. Teams may also be subject to testing in between matches at team hotels and training sessions. Players can also benefit from face-to-face anti-doping and integrity education sessions which are delivered by World Rugby before the tournament starts.
Since 2013, World Rugby has been operating a successful athlete biological passport programme (ABP), which monitors individual biological profiles collected in blood and urine over time. The programme applies to both men and women as part of the intelligent-testing approach. The ABP looks for changes in player’s steroidal and haematological profiles that may indirectly indicate doping and enables more precise targeting of players for testing and analysis.
Rugby is underpinned by its character-building values, including integrity, and, working closely with WADA, the sport operates a zero-tolerance stance towards drug cheats.
With a budget increase of almost 30 per cent, World Rugby carried out more tests in 2015 than ever before – a total of 3,562 – reaffirming the need to promote a level playing field for all. The intelligent testing programme featured targeted tests in and out-of-competition for both blood and urine involving male and female players involved in both 15s and sevens.
The in-competition programme included Rugby World Cup 2015, Olympic Games qualification, World Rugby U20 Championship and U20 Trophy, as well as a number of other tournaments, with out-of-competition testing conducted at training camps, at players’ homes and other testing opportunities.