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Pembrokeshire rugby player’s four-year ban from sport for taking anabolic steroids

Joshua Hicks has been banned from all sports for four years after admitting taking banned drugs. <i>(Image: Canva)</i>

Joshua Hicks has been banned from all sports for four years after admitting taking banned drugs. <i>(Image: Canva)</i>

A PEMBROKESHIRE rugby union player has been banned from sport for four years after being found to have taken three banned substances including an anabolic steroid.

Joshua Hicks, 28, who plays for Pembroke RFC, was selected to provide an in-competition urine sample on October 8, 2022, by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), the organisation that manages and tests for banned substances in athletes in the UK on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). The sample was collected following the club’s Division One West game against Penclawdd.

When the sample was analysed, it was found that anastrozole, tamoxifen and drostanolone were present in the sample. All of which are banned substances on the WADA 2022 Prohibited List.

The WADA Prohibited List has a number of sections which classifies a wide range of substances into specified substances that are banned at all times, non-specified substances that are banned at all times, substances that are banned during competition and substances which are banned but exceptions can be made for medical circumstances providing the relevant proof is provided to UKAD and a therapeutic use exemption is granted in advance of taking the medication.

The three substances that appeared in Hicks’ sample are all prohibited at all times. Anastrazole comes under S4.1 of the list as an Aromatase Inhibitor and is a specified substance. Tamoxifen is listed under section S4.2 as an Anti-Estrogenic Substance and is also a specified substance. Drostanolone is listed under section S1.1 as an Anabolic Androgenic Steroid and is a non-specified substance.

UKAD notified him that he may have committed anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) on December 16, 2022, and that he was provisionally suspended. In his response, he admitted to taking the substances and was charged on March 3, 2023, and on March 21, he again admitted taking them but disputed the four-year ban that was put in place by the UKAD.

The independent National Anti-Doping Panel received the case on April 4, but on June 28, Hicks accepted the four-year ban and no longer wanted a hearing before the independent panel.

Hamish Coffey, UKAD’s director of operations, said: “This case makes clear to those participating in rugby union in Wales that UKAD can conduct anti-doping testing at all levels of WRU competition, and that all participants of the sport are liable for the consequences of their actions should they violate the ADR.

“All rugby players need to understand that taking banned substances will result in lengthy bans from the sports they love, and have trained long and hard to take part in. Rugby is a team sport, we want to protect sport for all, and we will always act to catch those individuals who try and cheat the system. It is never worth the risk.”

The WRU said: “The WRU promotes Clean Sport and players at every level of the game, must adhere to the WRU Anti-Doping Riles. It’s vital that players are aware of the risks if they decide to take a prohibited substance for performance-enhancing or recreational reasons. We want players to make good decisions both on and off the field.”

Hicks has now been banned from all sport for the four-year period between December 16, 2022, and December 15, 2026, inclusive.

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