Harrison banned for eight months

Former Australia and Bath lock Justin Harrison has been handed an eight-month suspension after admitting three drug-related charges at a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing on Monday.

The 35-year-old was suspended by RFU disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett for “actions which are prejudicial to the interests of the game”.

Harrison admitted taking a prohibited substance during an end-of-season celebration in London and of subsequently failing to submit to a drugs test.

The former Australia international also admitted to shouting: “Class A, it’s OK, everyone’s doing it” in the vicinity of Bath’s academy players.

The suspension was back-dated to May 14, the day Harrison resigned from Bath and withdrew from the Barbarians tour, and he is banned from playing and coaching rugby until January 13, 2010.

Three of Harrison’s former Bath team-mates – Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins – face similar charges at an RFU hearing later this month. All three vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

Harrison requested a separate hearing and in return agreed to abide by the judgement of the RFU’s disciplinary officer.

Harrison said: “I wish to express my acceptance of my suspension by the RFU.

“I deeply regret the incidents of Sunday, May 10, 2009 and the subsequent damage to Bath Rugby Club and the game itself.

“My situation highlights the dangers to elite rugby players of excess drinking and illicit substances. Whether in season or out those dangers should be avoided.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to remain involved in the game and I fully intend to use my own experiences to educate younger players in the future.”

Harrison has not been banned from all rugby-related activities because the charges related to an incident that was out of competition and therefore did not fall under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

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