A former Market Rasen and Louth RUFC player has been handed a four-year ban from all sport for drug offences committed after leaving the club.
Leigh Dearden, who left the Market Rasen-based club a few seasons ago, failed a routine drugs test before a game for Lincoln on March 23, 2019.
He provided a urine sample which tested positive for steroids and cocaine before he was banned from playing for four years.
After the verdict, Market Rasen and Louth club issued the following statement: “We confirm that Leigh Dearden has played for Market Rasen and Louth RUFC in the past, but he left the club of his own volition to play at Lincoln RFC a number of years ago.
“The offences occurred while Dearden was a Lincoln RFC player and therefore should not be associated in any way with Market Rasen and Louth RUFC.
“As a club we do not condone the use of drugs in any form and firmly believe there is no place for them within rugby union or any other sport under any circumstances.”
When challenged by the Rugby Football Union, Leigh claimed he had taken medication from “an associate outside of rugby” which he assumed to be “painkillers of some variation.”
In an email to the sport’s governing body, he said: “I would like to apologise for the inconvenience I have caused to those involved.
“I was horrified when I received your call informing me that I had failed a drug test.
“I can categorically say that never once in my career have I, or would I knowingly, taken any substance that would go against all of my beliefs of playing the game fairly and in a sportsmanlike way, and would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been a user of either recreational or performance-enhancing drugs.
“My only concern now is that I don’t do detriment to my club or undo any of the good work and progress we have made.”
Leigh did not attend the RFU Anti-Doping hearing on August 8, which took place in his absence.
RFU Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs programme manager Stephen Watkins said: “All rugby players are subject to the anti-doping rules which are in place to protect players and the integrity of our sport.”
A spokesperson for Lincoln Rugby Club said: “Lincoln Rugby Club are thoroughly disappointed in the behaviour of this former player.
“We do not condone substance abuse and have a zero tolerance policy towards drug-taking.”
UK Anti-Doping’s Director of Operations, Pat Myhill, added: “Once again, an athlete has been banned from sport after an anti-doping test found a cocktail of prohibited substances in their system.
“We have seen several of these instances in recent months and it’s a worrying trend.