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August 19, 2009

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Richards banned for three years

DEAN Richards has been banned from any involvement in the Heineken Cup for three years after being found guilty of organizing the fabrication of a blood injury and a subsequent cover-up when he was rugby director at Harlequins.

Former England forward Richards resigned earlier this month after an independent European Rugby Cup (ERC) panel decided the team had staged an injury to winger Tom Williams during their Heineken Cup quarterfinal against Leinster in April. The injury had allowed specialist goalkicker Nick Evans back on the field near the end of their 5-6 defeat to Leinster.

In the ERC's July ruling, Williams and Richards were both suspended for a year, but a more serious charge of misconduct against the former rugby director was thrown out. An appeals committee, however, had subsequently found Richards guilty of misconduct after hearing new evidence from Williams.

"(An independent appeals) committee (has) imposed a suspension of three years on Mr Richards from participating in any capacity in ERC (European Rugby Cup) tournaments and will be requesting other tournaments and governing bodies give effect to this suspension in their tournaments," the ERC said. "The ERC ... found Mr Richards was guilty of misconduct in that he organized the fabrication of a wound or blood injury. Mr Richards acknowledged he had orchestrated the subsequent cover up of the incident."

Williams had explained how Richards and Quins physiotherapist Steph Brennan had organized the fabrication of the injury "as well as disclosing full details of the steps taken by those involved to cover up what had happened in the period following the match," the ERC added.


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