No drug problem in rugby - Johnson
June 3, 2009
England manager Martin Johnson has denied that there is a drug problem in rugby © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has denied that there is a drug culture in rugby and highlighted the stringent nature of drug testing.
Only three months after England prop Matt Stevens was banned for two years after admitting a cocaine problem, his club side Bath have been thrown in to turmoil following the termination of their contracts by three of his former team-mates.
Michael Lipman, a 10-cap England international, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins have all left Bath after allegations were made that they refused to take drug tests following the club's end-of-season party. The trio are now considering legal action for constructive dismissal and defamation
"You can never be complacent about these things but in my experience there is not a widespread drug problem in rugby," said Johnson. "For instance, today at 5.50am I got a call in my hotel bedroom because a tester wanted to see one of our guys who was on 24-hour notice.
"The players are very aware of the testing procedures that are being used. It's not just a deterrent - they realise what they're throwing away if they get involved in it."
Lipman is the only capped player to have been caught up in the scandal, aside from Wallaby lock Justin Harrison who left his contract at the Rec early, but hasn't featured for England since November's defeat to the All Blacks due to injury. Johnson refused to comment on his international future while the inquiry into the affair by the RFU was ongoing.
"The RFU are having their inquiry and are collating information, so we can't really comment on that until we find out what's going to happen," he said.