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England prop Stevens gets doping ban

ENGLAND prop Matt Stevens has been provisionally suspended from all competition after testing positive for a recreational drug.

The Bath player, who failed a doping test after a Heineken Cup match in December, had been due to fly to Portugal with the England team on Sunday as it prepares for this season's Six Nations Championship.

"The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been made aware by European Rugby Cup of the positive doping test given by Matt Stevens following the Heineken Cup match against Glasgow Warriors in December 2008," the statement said.

The 26-year-old Stevens, who has been removed from England's Elite Player Squad, admitted that he was attending counselling sessions.

"I was tested for a prohibited substance but it's not performance enhancing, so you can take what you want from that," an emotional Stevens told Sky Sports News.

"When you think about how much time people have put into my career and I have thrown it away.

"Like any drug problem you don't know it's happening and then it mounts up and before you know it you have a problem and an illness."

The RFU said a decision on a replacement for Stevens in the EPS squad is being considered by England team manager Martin Johnson, adding that it condemned drug use.

"The RFU condemns the use or distribution of prohibited substances or methods as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List," it said in a statement reiterated by his club.

The English RFU is the only union in the International Rugby Board to have a full-time doping officer and operates a stringent in and out of competition testing regime.

Bath said in a statement they were "considering the implications" of Stevens' positive test.

Stevens, who was born in South Africa, made his England debut in 2004 and has earned 32 caps. He appeared in every one of England's seven matches at the 2007 World Cup when they reached the final.


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