Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Boss Backs Drugs Crackdown

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Boss Backs Drugs Crackdown

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

OFFERING the widest of perspectives on rugby's recent drug shame, Steve Bates expects his game to get tough on rule-breakers.

In the wake of damning insight into Bath's struggles after bans for Alex Crockett, Michael Lipman and Andrew Higgins, Falcons rugby director Bates welcomed the tightening of player drug testing.

Calling for greater education of young players on the privileges silly mistakes could remove, Bates said a recent Falcons trip to the Newcastle Quayside Royal Marines Reserves base rammed home the point.

When an Afghanistan combat veteran retold his front-line experiences, Bates said the whole squad made a split-second evaluation of all their problems.

Bates said: "One of the really interesting things about our visit to the marines was one of their combat veterans who had seen action in Afghanistan came in and spoke to us about his experiences. It's frightening, he was involved in direct conflict with the Taliban and he said that one of his guys got shot.

"They came under extensive fire and when our guys listened to that, they realised just how much perspective that puts on their lives.

"That's the key to it, we need to show them what they have and that they really must not throw all this opportunity away.

"It's a unique opportunity and that's about playing the game at this level and it's about not joining in with society and wrecking those chances.

"If you are caught using Class A drugs you must be banned, it's as simple as that."

The RFU hearing for the Bath trio did not end as conclusively as to confirm the trio were involved in any Class A drug taking, but their refusal to give urine and hair samples led to their eventual ban. Rumours had abounded of a boozy squad night out in London after the end of the season, where Class A drug taking was mooted. …

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