Two-year ban for Stevens
Stevens career in tatters after being banned for two years for drugs use
Last Updated: 27/02/09 1:38pm
Stevens: Two-year ban
England and Bath prop Matt Stevens has been handed a two-year ban by the ERC after testing positive for cocaine.
The 26-year-old has been banned from all rugby and rugby-related activities until January 18, 2011.
A disciplinary hearing in Glasgow handed out the sentence as a result of a drugs test revealing metabolites of cocaine in his system.
The European Rugby Cup described the ban as the "prescribed sanction" for failing a drugs test, and now Stevens' career has huge question marks hanging over it with him sitting out the game for the next two years.
"After considering the evidence, and in light of Mr Stevens' admissions, the committee determined that an anti-doping rule violation had occurred in that the player's sample had contained benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, which are metabolites of cocaine," an ERC statement said.
Stevens failed the drugs test after Bath's Heineken Cup victory over Glasgow in December, and he then made a public confession that he had developed a cocaine problem and would be seeking help.
Capped 32 times for England, Stevens was expected to be included in the Lions squad for the South Africa tour this summer.
Bath chief executive Bob Calleja said the length of the ban was not a surprise, and added that they want to sit down and discuss Stevens' future with him as soon as possible.
"It doesn't come as a particular surprise, looking at the precedents that have been set," Calleja told Sky Sports News.
"As far as the club is concerned we have to follow due process, which we have done.
"We will now hold our own internal meeting with Matt and make a statement after we've done that.
"I'm hoping to speak to him as soon as possible, as soon as he returns from Glasgow (where the ERC hearing was held), and continue the dialogue now that we know what the conclusion is."
Stevens would also be one of England's more experienced players at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, but his chances of making that tournament now seem exceptionally slim.
England manager Martin Johnson said: "I have said all through this
episode that there is no place in sport or society for illegal drug use.
"Matt chose to take a banned substance and will now have to accept the
consequences. He will not be involved in rugby for two years and for a
professional sportsman that will be a very tough experience.
"Matt has admitted that he has a problem and is seeking help. We support him
in that but all rugby players must understand that they are responsible for
their actions, and that includes lifestyle choices."