Sale Sharks prop Jake Pope has received a six-month ban following a second failed drugs test.
He is banned from 4 December 2018, the date of his provisional suspension, until 4 June 2019.
This is the first time that a player has violated the RFU’s illicit drugs policy for a second time.
Pope admitted a first violation which revealed the presence of cocaine and its metabolites from a test administered on 12 September 2017. The player was fined £1,000.
On 20 November 2018, the prop was subject to another test which returned an adverse analytical finding (‘AAF’) for cannabis and cocaine.
Pope admitted this violation and a subsequent independent disciplinary panel hearing took place on 11 February 2019.
RFU Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs Programme Manager Stephen Watkins said: “The purpose of the Illicit Drugs Policy is primarily to protect the health and welfare of players. This means that in the first instance, the problem can be dealt with as a confidential health-related issue.
“This is the first time we have had a second offence since the policy was established in 2010. It should send a strong deterrent message to all players that the RFU takes the misuse of substances seriously. Players have responsibilities as role models in our sport and therefore have an important part to play in protecting its reputation.”
Sale Sharks have also released a statement:
“Jake has received a six-month ban from the RFU following a second violation of their Illicit Drugs Policy.
“As soon as Sale Sharks were made aware of Jake’s failed tests, the club intervened to ensure Jake had the support pathway he required to address the matter and avoid any further issues arising in the future.
“As a role model to young players across the North-West, this behaviour is unacceptable. The club does not condone the misuse of drugs from any player and accept the decision made by the RFU, however Sale Sharks prides itself on being able to offer a career pathway into rugby for people of all backgrounds and circumstances and for this reason we feel it is right that, as a young man who has made mistakes, Jake be given a fair chance to redeem himself.
“Jake will be available to play again from 4th June 2019.”