- Pope receives six-month ban
- He is banned until 4 June 2019
Jake Pope, registered as a player for Sale Sharks, has received a six-month ban following his second violation of the RFU Illicit Drugs Programme.
He is banned from 4 December 2018, the date of his provisional suspension, until 4 June 2019. This is the first time a player has breached RFU’s illicit drugs policy for a second time.
Mr Pope had previously admitted a first violation, resulting from a test administered on 12 September 2017, which had revealed the presence of cocaine or its metabolites. The player was subject to a fixed penalty of £1,000 in respect of that violation.
While the RFU does not publish first time offences, under the policy second violations are made public.
On 20 November 2018, the player was subject to another test pursuant to the policy, which returned an adverse analytical finding ('AAF') for cannabis and cocaine. He admitted the violation and an independent disciplinary panel hearing took place on 11 February 2019.
The panel, which consisted of Jeremy Summers (Chair), Dr Gary O’Driscoll and Dr Tom Rees, considered the evidence presented and adopted a reduced period of ineligibility of six months and a fixed penalty of £1,000.
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.”
To read the judgement, please click here, while the RFU’s Illicit Drugs Policy is available online here.