Drugs cheat rugby player banned for 2 years

Darren Eales holds the Regional Bowl shield aloft in 2014. Picture: comp
Darren Eales holds the Regional Bowl shield aloft in 2014. Picture: comp
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An amateur rugby player has been suspended from all sports for two years after failing a drugs test.

Darren Eales, from Prestonpans, tested positive for steroids on November 19 last year after Scottish Rugby received a tip-off about the prop forward’s alleged use of banned substances.

The 22-year-old, who works in construction and often posted pictures of his muscle gain on Facebook, has now been banned from all competitions until December 10, 2016.

The move comes as UK Anti-Doping (Ukad), which works to combat doping in sport, warned of a rise in the use of steroids among amateur rugby players – citing the increasing availability of supplements over the internet and the widespread belief among amateur athletes that they won’t be tested.

Eales’ final game was for Preston Lodge RFC in BT National League Division 3 on October 18. He was also dual registered with Kelso RFC and Melrose RFC during the 2014-15 season.

The president of Preston Lodge RFC did not respond to the Evening News’ requests for comment.

Pat Myhill, director of operations at Ukad, said: “The successful prosecution of Darren Eales came as a result of Ukad’s Intelligence and Investigations team receiving information from Scottish Rugby about the player’s use of steroids. It is through this partnership, and by sharing information, that once again we are able to rid the game of an athlete who deliberately goes against the values of clean sport. The case of Darren Eales clearly demonstrates that regardless of the level, sports themselves will not tolerate those who decide to intentionally dope and those who go against the spirit of the game they love.”

Eales, who was previously seen as one of Preston Lodge’s most promising young players, tested positive for boldenone, trenbolone and oxymetholone and later admitted injecting and taking the drugs as pills.

Graham Ireland, Scottish Rugby’s head of regulation, said the organisation has a 
“zero-tolerance” doping policy.

He said: “Through a robust testing and education programme, and working in partnership with clubs, anti-doping agencies and other governing bodies, Scottish Rugby is committed to ensuring the game in Scotland is kept clean.

“Since the 2009-10 season there has been over 1200 drugs tests in Scottish Rugby, at all levels of the game, with some 246 in season 2014-15.

“In that period there has been three adverse findings – an amateur club player in 2010, who was found to have taken a slimming product that contained an illegal substance; in 2013, Sam Chalmers who was tested at a Scotland under-20 training session; and this latest case.

“This violation is a firm reminder that testing can occur at any level of the game, anywhere and at any time. Scottish Rugby encourages anyone with intelligence as to doping offences to contact Ukad or ourselves.

“The steps taken by officials at Preston Lodge during this time were exemplary, in ensuring a clean and fair game, particularly when the league season was still under way.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com