Bath quartet ordered before RFU panel
June 17, 2009
Michael Lipman was Bath captain before terminating his contract © Getty Images
The RFU will call former Bath players Justin Harrison, Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins before a disciplinary panel in order to answer a charge of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game, including charges of taking prohibited substances and wilful refusal to take a drugs test.
The RFU have completed an initial investigation after Lipman, Crockett and Higgins were accused of failing to take drug tests on three occasions following their end of season party in London. Harrison was alleged to have become involved in an altercation with Harlequins players on the same evening, and had already left the club by the time his co-accused terminated their deals at the Rec.
The trio strongly denied any wrongdoing and with that in mind terminated their contracts on June 1, immediately before a Bath disciplinary hearing.
Twickenham's disciplinary manager Bruce Reece-Russel launched the inquiry following allegations made against the quartet by newspapers. Bath have already faced one drugs scandal this season with their England prop Matt Stevens being handed a two-year ban after admitting a cocaine problem.
"The RFU, and our partners at Premier Rugby, work tirelessly to ensure the reputation of the game is protected," read the RFU statement. "The RFU have now completed their initial investigations into the allegations made against former Bath players Justin Harrison, Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins.
"We can confirm we will be asking the players to appear before an RFU disciplinary panel charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Game (rule 5.12) on a number of charges including taking prohibited substances and wilful refusal to take a drugs test.
"All details of the investigation now form part of the disciplinary process and to protect the integrity of the process will remain confidential. The RFU will make a further announcement when the panel has been convened and a date has been set but can confirm we intend to call a number of players, club management and other third parties to appear before the panel to support the case."