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'Unacceptable' - Sale prop Pope banned after second failed drugs test

The 21-year-old has received a six-month ban after testing positive for cocaine and cannabis.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

SALE SHARKS PROP Jake Pope has been banned for six months after his second failed drugs test.

The 21-year-old received a fixed fine of £1,000 in 2017 after a test showed the presence of cocaine in his system.

And now Pope has become the first player to breach the Rugby Football Union’s policy on recreational drugs for a second time.

Pope failed another test in November of last year, this time for cannabis and cocaine, and – with first-time offences not published – the English union has now made his violations public.

Pope’s six-month ban, backdating to December, means he will be unavailable to play until June of this year. He has also been handed a second fixed fine of  £1,000.

The prop, who played for the England U20s in 2016 and 2017, has featured for Sale in the Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup and Premiership Rugby Cup, while also having stints with Rotherham and Doncaster.

In the wake of the RFU’s announcement on Pope’s ban, Sale have released a statement saying his behaviour is “unacceptable.”

“As soon as Sale Sharks were made aware of Jake’s failed tests, the club intervened to ensure Jake had the support pathway he required to address the matter and avoid any further issues arising in the future,” reads the club’s statement.

“As a role model to young players across the North-West, this behaviour is unacceptable.

“The club does not condone the misuse of drugs from any player and accept the decision made by the RFU, however Sale Sharks prides itself on being able to offer a career pathway into rugby for people of all backgrounds and circumstances and for this reason we feel it is right that, as a young man who has made mistakes, Jake be given a fair chance to redeem himself.”

The RFU’s anti-doping and Illicit Drugs Programme manager, Stephen Watkins, indicated that bans for illicit drugs are designed to help protect players.

“The purpose of the Illicit Drugs Policy is primarily to protect the health and welfare of players. This means that in the first instance, the problem can be dealt with as a confidential health-related issue,” said Watkins.

“This is the first time we have had a second offence since the policy was established in 2010. It should send a strong deterrent message to all players that the RFU takes the misuse of substances seriously.

“Players have responsibilities as role models in our sport and therefore have an important part to play in protecting its reputation.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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