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September 9, 2009

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Former Bath players lose ban appeal

FORMER Bath players Alex Crockett and Michael Lipman have lost their appeals over nine-month bans for missing drugs tests, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Monday.

The pair and former Bath teammate Andrew Higgins, who did not appeal and has since retired, all received the bans in August after being found guilty on two charges of missing drugs tests.

On Monday, the RFU confirmed the original suspension, effective from June 1, 2009, and said in a statement that the full written judgment would be released "in due course".

Bath also issued a statement, saying: "Bath are satisfied that, whilst this hearing was no longer a club issue, it upholds the actions taken by the club at the end of last season and the original ruling by the RFU."

Loose forward Lipman and centers Crockett and Higgins all resigned from Bath in June shortly before they were to attend an internal disciplinary hearing over the missed tests.

Australian-born Lipman, 29, who has 10 England caps and 27-year-old Crockett, who has represented England Saxons, were joint captains of Bath last season.

The bans were part of a black summer for English rugby.

Bath's Australian lock Justin Harrison was also banned after admitting drug use, following the two-year ban given to Bath and England prop Matt Stevens after he tested positive cocaine.

Former England forward Dean Richards was banned for three years for his role in faking a blood injury to wing Tom Williams during a Heineken Cup quarterfinal in April while in his role as director of rugby at Harlequins, with the club also fined for its role in the affair.

The developments led to the RFU last month setting up an "Image of the Game Task Group" to review all aspects of the professional and amateur game.


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