Armitage’s doping ban is temporarily lifted

Toulon’s England international flanker Steffon Armitage has had a doping ban lifted temporarily pending an appearance before the French anti-doping commission, his club said Thursday.

Armitage, 26, last week vehemently protested his innocence after testing positive for morphine, on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned list despite one which could be construed as having therapeutic qualities.

He returned the test after the Top 14 final defeat by Toulouse on June 9.

But although he must appear before the French Rugby Federation’s anti-doping commission on August 21, he has been allowed to feature in remaining pre-season friendlies.

Toulon said on their website that Armitage “has had his penalty lifted and is therefore able to play the last two friendly matches with Rugby Club Toulonnais.

“Nevertheless, he will still be called before the commission to fight the doping case on August 21.”

Both club and player say they are confident he can clear his name.

The club maintain the test showed an “abnormal” result, a side-effect of painkillers and anti-inflammatories which club medical staff prescribed for back pain.

The club also say the products are approved by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD).

Last week, Armitage said: “I am going to keep my head held high as I have done nothing wrong.”

He vowed to come back stronger after first clearing his name.

The product can be taken with written medical authorisation as a therapeutic treatment but in Armitage’s case such authorisation was not forthcoming, according to the report from Rugbyrama, website of French daily Midi Olympique.

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