Doping In Rugby Now A Serious Problem

In 1997 a man was jailed for six months for peddling steroids in south Wales. Hardly a headline grabber, you might think, but this was no backstreet drug pusher: the man was Michael Thear-Graham, a GP in Newport who was running an industrial-scale racket.

By Steve Howell

At the time the media described him as supplying “bodybuilders”, but many of us in sport knew he also had a large and growing market in rugby, which had just turned professional.

The bodybuilder line was symptomatic of a culture of denial that meant the problem of steroids in Wales’s national sport would go completely untackled for many years.

Fears of widespread doping grow with a third of banned Britons from Wales
Read more
About a decade after Thear-Graham’s incarceration, while doing research for a book, I asked a very senior official in Welsh sport how many rugby players he thought were using steroids. He put it simply: “How many aren’t?”

I continued to dig. Doctors told me they had seen former players struggling with heart conditions after years of steroid abuse. People in rugby spoke privately about coaches telling young wannabes to “bulk up” and even sometimes handing out the tablets.

My then teenage son would come home from gyms around Newport with tales of ’roiders – both rugby players and boys “getting ripped” to look good. Yet there was generally a reluctance to go on the record, which didn’t matter to me because I had decided at the outset that the best way to tell the truth was through fiction.

Now, thanks to a banned rugby player whose brave revelations may help to save his sport, we are seeing some light being shone on the reality that steroids are almost as much a part of rugby’s culture as tying your laces. And that isn’t just in Wales. The whistleblower, 20-year-old Daniel Spencer-Tonks, who was interviewed as part of a documentary this week on Welsh rugby, is actually a former England under-16 rugby union international who was playing rugby league for the University of Gloucestershire All Golds when he failed a drug test in February. He says steroid use is “hugely widespread” at all levels because of a pressure on players to be “bigger, faster and stronger”.

Daniel Spencer-Tonks says steroid use is ‘hugely widespread’ because of pressure to be ‘bigger, faster and stronger’
Of the 52 sportspeople on the UK anti-doping agency’s list of current sanctions, 16 are from rugby union and 13 are from rugby league. This is not a sign of more testing. The England Rugby Football Union, for instance, did not introduce testing for 17- and 18-year-old academy players until 2013-14, and even then carried out only 100 tests. To beat the problem, testing should start at 14 or 15 and be much more extensive.

Doping in sports such as athletics and cycling has had far more media attention because success or failure is measured in fractions of a second, and performance-enhancing drugs can directly affect the outcome. In team sports it is harder to trace the relationship between cheating and results, and there is less of a sense among the public that we are being duped.

If cheating were the only concern, you could argue that there is a level playing field in rugby because so many players are using or have used steroids. But the much bigger issues are the deadly long-term health dangers of steroid abuse and the need to protect children from the pressure to do anything to “make it” – especially in austerity-hit working-class communities.

Sam Warburton spearheads Welsh Rugby Union’s anti-doping campaign
Read more
In academic circles there is a continuing debate about whether there is enough evidence to say conclusively that steroid abuse causes heart and kidney problems and increases the risk of some types of cancer. The difficulty, as ever, is in separating cause and effect. Many steroid users also take other drugs, and there are mixed views on the dangers of excessive bodybuilding. But the risks are clear from numerous tragic cases, and my view is that we can’t afford to wait for definitive research.

In the US, the Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF) is effective because it does not hesitate to use hard-hitting examples to make the case against both appearance and performance enhancing drugs (APEDs). Baseball was a sport mired in doping scandals only a few years, but THF has now signed up every one of the 30 major league baseball teams for its All Me APED Free campaign.

If admitting a problem is the first step towards solving it, I don’t yet feel overwhelmed with optimism about rugby. Leading voices tend to shrug and say “all sports have their problems”. But we would not accept that from Russian athletics – and nor should we accept it on our own doorstep.

And there’s the rub: a precedent has been set by the decision to suspend Russia that may preclude their participation in next summer’s Olympics Games in Rio. Rugby – now an Olympic sport – may not have long to put its own house in order.

74 thoughts on “Doping In Rugby Now A Serious Problem

  • September 9, 2016 at 04:59

    Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. Seo Plugin

  • September 13, 2016 at 19:09

    I do accept as true with all the ideas you
    have presented on your post. They’re really convincing
    and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very
    quick for novices. Could you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time?
    Thanks for the post.

  • September 14, 2016 at 00:36

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to
    be really something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking
    forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  • September 14, 2016 at 05:33

    Hello! I know this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established blog like yours take a
    large amount of work? I’m brand new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal every
    day. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience
    and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips
    for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

  • September 14, 2016 at 10:51

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I
    find this topic to be really something that I think I would never
    understand. It seems too complex and extremely
    broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of

  • September 16, 2016 at 05:09

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information,
    but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  • September 16, 2016 at 05:13

    Link exchange is nothing else however it is only placing
    the other person’s weblog link on your page at
    suitable place and other person will also do same in support of you.

  • September 16, 2016 at 12:24

    We are a group of volunteers and starting
    a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with useful info to work on.
    You’ve performed an impressive process and our entire group will probably be grateful to you.

  • September 19, 2016 at 23:42

    Amazing issues here. I’m very satisfied to look your post.
    Thanks so much and I’m taking a look forward to touch you.
    Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  • September 20, 2016 at 17:40

    Hey very cool web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog
    and take the feeds also? I’m glad to find a lot of helpful
    info right here within the post, we want work out more strategies in this
    regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  • September 23, 2016 at 08:40

    I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog
    posts in this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I
    ultimately stumbled upon this website. Studying this information So i am happy to express that I’ve a very good
    uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I most unquestionably will make sure to do
    not fail to remember this site and give it a glance on a
    continuing basis.

  • September 24, 2016 at 00:13

    Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has
    some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, awesome blog!

  • September 24, 2016 at 01:14

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is magnificent, let alone the content!

  • September 25, 2016 at 04:17

    I have been examinating out some of your stories and
    i must say pretty good stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your website.

  • September 26, 2016 at 19:40

    Hi there would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re working with?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different web browsers and I must say
    this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you
    suggest a good internet hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  • September 26, 2016 at 22:23

    We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our
    community. Your web site offered us with helpful info to work on. You have done a formidable process and our whole community might be
    thankful to you.

  • September 27, 2016 at 20:45

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.

    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as
    well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own blog now 😉

  • September 27, 2016 at 23:30

    I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more right here
    frequently. I am rather certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right
    right here! Good luck for the following!

  • September 28, 2016 at 06:44

    Hi there to every body, it’s my first go to see of this webpage; this webpage consists of remarkable and in fact fine
    data in favor of readers.

  • September 29, 2016 at 23:49

    I think this is one of the most vital information for me.

    And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The
    site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D.
    Good job, cheers

  • October 1, 2016 at 08:50

    That is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise information… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  • October 1, 2016 at 22:30

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to death at work so
    I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait
    to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, wonderful site!

  • October 2, 2016 at 05:49

    Very good information. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I have saved it for later!

  • October 2, 2016 at 15:36

    I read this piece of writing completely regarding the resemblance of most recent and earlier technologies, it’s awesome article.

  • October 2, 2016 at 19:05

    I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this web site.

    Studying this information So i’m glad to show that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed.
    I most without a doubt will make certain to don’t overlook this web site and provides it a
    look on a constant basis.

  • October 4, 2016 at 19:40

    What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve
    found It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads.
    I’m hoping to contribute & assist other users like its helped me.
    Great job.

  • October 6, 2016 at 17:46

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site.
    I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later
    on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities
    has encouraged me to get my own blog now 😉

  • October 13, 2016 at 03:17

    I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right
    here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly
    a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

  • October 13, 2016 at 04:57

    obviously like your website however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts.
    Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find
    it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I’ll
    certainly come back again.

  • October 14, 2016 at 00:21

    I have been surfing online more than 2 hours
    today, yet I never found any interesting article like
    yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if
    all site owners and bloggers made good content
    as you did, the web will be much more useful
    than ever before.

  • October 16, 2016 at 06:17

    Hello, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts,
    that’s actually good, keep up writing.

  • October 17, 2016 at 00:10

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless,
    just wanted to say superb blog!

  • October 18, 2016 at 00:38

    Hello, Neat post. There is a problem together with your site
    in web explorer, may test this? IE still is the marketplace chief and a good part of folks will pass over your wonderful writing because of this problem.

  • October 18, 2016 at 18:55

    Ahaa, its nice conversation regarding this paragraph here at this
    web site, I have read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.

  • October 18, 2016 at 21:27

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful
    & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  • October 18, 2016 at 21:31

    I do trust all the ideas you’ve offered to your post.
    They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for novices.

    May you please prolong them a little from subsequent time?
    Thank you for the post.

  • October 19, 2016 at 12:02

    Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick
    shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal
    with the same topics? Appreciate it!

  • October 19, 2016 at 15:41

    I’ll immediately grasp your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Kindly permit me know in order
    that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  • October 19, 2016 at 18:01

    I was looking through some of your content on this site and I think this
    website is rattling informative! Keep putting up.

  • October 20, 2016 at 10:53

    The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my
    iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so
    she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad
    is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but
    I had to share it with someone!

  • October 20, 2016 at 20:19

    Every weekend i used to pay a visit this website, as i wish for enjoyment,
    for the reason that this this website conations genuinely pleasant funny information too.

  • October 21, 2016 at 07:48

    I don’t even understand how I stopped up here, however I thought this submit used
    to be good. I do not recognize who you are however certainly you’re going to a well-known blogger when you aren’t already.


  • October 21, 2016 at 23:37

    Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment
    form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding
    one? Thanks a lot!

  • October 25, 2016 at 15:20

    excellent points altogether, you simply received a new
    reader. What would you recommend about your post that you just
    made a few days ago? Any sure?

  • October 26, 2016 at 02:25

    Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be
    on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I
    definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects
    , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.

  • November 1, 2016 at 23:08

    Hi there exceptional website! Does running a blog similar to this require a great deal
    of work? I have no expertise in programming however I
    had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any
    recommendations or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off subject but I just wanted to ask.

    Thanks a lot!

  • November 2, 2016 at 04:20

    These are really impressive ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some fastidious things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  • November 3, 2016 at 07:29

    You’re so cool! I do not believe I have read anything like that before.
    So wonderful to find someone with a few unique thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that is needed
    on the web, someone with some originality!

  • November 3, 2016 at 15:36

    What’s up i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anywhere, when i read
    this piece of writing i thought i could also create comment due to this good paragraph.

  • November 3, 2016 at 21:31

    Great beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend your site, how could
    i subscribe for a weblog site? The account aided me a
    applicable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant
    transparent idea

  • November 9, 2016 at 02:25

    Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast!

    What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours

  • November 9, 2016 at 13:59

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came
    across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much.

    I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  • November 10, 2016 at 22:14

    Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!

    Appreciate it

  • November 11, 2016 at 09:04

    Hello. fantastic job. I did not anticipate this. This is a splendid story. Thanks!

  • November 11, 2016 at 13:20

    But wanna input on few general things, The website style and design is perfect, the written content is very fantastic. “The sun sets without thy assistance.” by The Talmud.

  • November 11, 2016 at 15:08

    Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your site in internet explorer, may check this?
    IE nonetheless is the market chief and a good section of people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this

  • November 14, 2016 at 06:01

    I have been surfing on-line more than three hours lately, but I never found any fascinating article like yours. It is lovely price sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you probably did, the net shall be much more useful than ever before.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *