Bitter pill to swallow”: Banned player sends word of warning to future stars

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Namibia player Arthur Bouwer (White Jersey)

World Rugby’s hardline approach to doping has been reinforced to the future stars of the game at this year’s U20 Championship as part of Keep Rugby Clean day.

The governing body today released a new anti-doping video involving former Namibia player Arthur Bouwer which sends a stark message to players. The former scrum-half was banned in 2016 for four years after testing positive for a banned substance.

Match-day three marks Keep Rugby Clean day at the tournament in Georgia, where players wear Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts during warm up to show support for and raise awareness of the anti-doping campaign.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO >>

Bouwer said: “I met a friend and he showed me a couple of supplements. I asked him if they were banned but he said no. He had been tested and ensured me that everything was safe. I didn’t do enough research regarding the supplement. I used the capsules and went to the gym without thinking if they were banned or not.”

Bouwer was subsequently tested at the World Rugby Nations Cup in Romania last year and banned for four years after returning an adverse analytical finding for Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone, a prohibited anabolic steroid. He cannot play again until July 2020.

“It’s really tough for me not practising with my mates anymore. When you see them lacing up their boots and (playing) on the field doing what I love to do…that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“I have to blame myself. World Rugby clearly stated that whatever is in your body is your own responsibility. I know (that) in the doping handbooks they make that very specific. No one can force you to eat anything or to take anything.”

Mike Earl, World Rugby General Manager, Anti-Doping added: “Arthur Bouwer’s story is a stark warning to any player, but to young players in particular, that if they ignore the risks with supplement use they may be throwing their careers away.

“Education sessions at tournaments like the U20 Championship will reinforce our robust approach – you alone are responsible for what’s in your body, no matter what. Arthur’s story is a sad one, and we thank him for his decision to try and help other players with this film, but players have to know that a four-year ban awaits anyone who gets caught taking a banned substance.”

Last year saw the governing body roll out the most scientific and comprehensive pre-event programme ever operated in rugby, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, and World Rugby continues to strive to operate the most advanced testing programme possible in the sport. Players are urged to visit keeprugbyclean.com for more information. As part of the education sessions at this year’s tournament in Georgia, players were also reminded about the importance of checking medication, applying for thereputic use exemptions (TUEs), health risks and consequences of doping.

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