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Premiership Rugby

Woodward welcomes ‘designer drug’ tests

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Athletics has been rocked to its very core by this latest doping scandal, with many top coaches and athletes implicated, spurring the IRB to introduce THG tests alongside their existing anti-doping procedures.  "Obviously drugs is an issue in all sports, rugby is no different, especially being a high contact game," Woodward told www.zurichpremiership.com.

"All I can say from England’s point of view is that a huge amount of testing has taken place, particularly at Pennyhill Park during our preparations, the drugs guys came on numerous occasions and were testing up to ten players at a time.

"To me it is excellent, and to me the only way that you will keep drugs out of a sport is to have meticulous testing, a programme were no player at any level can possibly cheat, so that is all that you can do. The doctor, Simon Kemp and Dave Reddin, our fitness advisor, are always talking to the players and making sure that everything that a player takes and eats is within the laws of the game.

"I have never heard of THG but if this drug is out there the players will know that it is a drug that they shouldn’t be taking, and they will also know that if they do they will ultimately get caught and that is the message that we want to keep pushing through to them."

Woodward is convinced that elite rugby players have no need to induldge in banned substances given the tremendous back-up available to them in terms of preparation, but is more than happy to see his own players tested "at any time".

"In rugby union there is no need to cheat because you can do all the preparation in the gym, take the right supplements, have the right diet and all those areas," said Woodward.

"There is no need just to gain a marginal increase in performance use a certain drug, it shouldn’t happen and any player doing so is ridiculously stupid and is going to get caught. And it will make front page news, so we have told all the players not just those who are out here now, but all international players.

"To me if they have found another drug and another way of testing that’s fantastic and I am supportive of any increase in testing or new ways of finding new drugs in players systems because you want to be involved in a sport that is drug free. You never say never, because you just don’t really know what all the players are doing 24 hours a day particularly the international players because they are playing for their Zurich Premiership clubs, all that you can do is your bit and I think that the Rugby Union is outstanding in this respect in the amount of advice given to the players.

"You don’t ever get asked and I don’t want to be asked, they (testers) are welcome anytime, they could arrive at breakfast and say that they want to test all thirty players and the answer is yes of course you can, there is no consultation needed.

"The whole idea is that they come whenever they want to, before games, out of season. We had players tested in May and June, even in their homes and this is excellent. I don’t want to be involved, apart from categorically saying whenever asked that I will always ensure that they are available for a test and to provide a sample."

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