Three Bath players quit after missing drug tests

Bath players Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins resigned from the club with immediate effect on Monday after a probe into an alleged bar brawl.

 

Reports last month claimed that several Bath players had been involved in a fight with rival players from Harlequins at a Fulham pub in London on May 10, just 24 hours after both sides had been eliminated from the Premiership play-offs.

The lurid stories also suggested there had been drug-taking at the end of season party.


Bath launched an immediate invesitgation and Lipman, Crockett and Higgins were due to appear at a hearing into the incident, but the trio, who three times refused to take drug tests, quit before the hearing could take place.


England flanker Lipman, 29, and Crockett, 27, were Bath’s joint captains.


Bob Calleja, the club’s CEO, said in a statement: “Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins had been required to appear at an internal disciplinary hearing today to address the failure on three occasions to take a drugs test following allegations surrounding player conduct on Sunday May 10.


“Immediately before the hearings were due to take place the players resigned from the club with immediate effect.


“The club regards this as an internal matter and intends to make no further comment.”

 

Bath have been hit by a recent drugs scandal after England international prop Matt Stevens received a two-year ban following a positive test earlier in the season.

Bath lock Justin Harrison, another who had been alleged to be involved in the disturbance, has since announced his retirement from rugby.


Solicitor Richard Mallett issued a statement on behalf of the three players, denying they had refused to take drug tests.


The statement read: “It is with tremendous regret that we announce that, as a result of the club’s actions, we have no option but to terminate our contracts with Bath Rugby with immediate effect.


“During the course of the last few weeks it has become clear to us that our position within the club has been made untenable.


“We have made every effort to work with the club to resolve our differences. Sadly, we have been unable to do so.


“It has been suggested in sections of the media that we have refused to provide samples for anti-doping purposes, but this is untrue.


“Anonymous sources have also made allegations against us to the club. We completely refute these allegations, which are both false and defamatory.


“We believe that these scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations are not only proving to be damaging to our own careers but to rugby as a whole.


“We have all been immensely proud to have represented Bath Rugby Club and we are extremely grateful for all the support which we have enjoyed from the players and the club’s amazing and loyal fans.


“Whilst we are extremely disappointed to have to leave the club in these circumstances we wish the players and the fans every success in the future.”

 

Meanwhile, the RFU will now conduct an investigation into the events surrounding the player resignations.

Twickenham chiefs have not ruled out taking their own disciplinary action and issued a statement which read: “The RFU, and our partners at Premier Rugby, work tirelessly to ensure the reputation of the game is protected.


“The RFU takes any breaches of discipline and any drugs-related allegations very seriously and we have now asked Bath Rugby for all the paperwork associated with their investigation and will be taking our own additional statements.”



Sapa-AFP

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