Hearing date for Bath drugs case set

England flanker Michael Lipman and three of his former Bath team-mates will see their disciplinary hearing over drugs charges start on July 29, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Wednesday.

Bath accused Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins of failing to take drug tests on three occasions following an end-of-season celebration.

Former Wallaby lock Justin Harrison had earlier left the club following lurid allegations stemming from the same incident in a west London bar.

All three players vehemently denied refusing to provide a sample and terminated their contracts with the English Premiership club on June 1, immediately before they were due to appear before a Bath disciplinary hearing.

The RFU said the entire quartet had been charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game in that, while still Bath registered players, they took illegal substance(s) or gave the impression they had taken an illegal substance(s) and refused to submit to an internal club drugs test as requested by Bath.

Their hearing, scheduled for two days, will take place in private at a venue yet to be confirmed. RFU disciplinary officer His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett will be the chairman of a three-man panel.

In February, Bath’s South Africa-born England prop Matt Stevens was banned from all rugby until January 18 2011 after testing positive for cocaine.

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