x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

UAE rugby union player faces two-year ban for doping

Hurricanes' Duncan Murray fails doping test and now hopes other players will now be more careful when it comes to nutrition.

Duncan Murray, in white.
Duncan Murray, in white.
DUBAI // A leading UAE international rugby union player has expressed his distress at the prospect of facing two years out of the game after testing positive for a prohibited substance.
Duncan Murray,, 29, who is a centre for the national team, said yesterday he had been informed traces of methylhexaneamine had been found in his system, after a test carried out during the HSBC Asian Five Nations tournament in April and May.
The “non-specified stimulant” was placed on the World Anti Doping Agency Prohibited List last year, and has been reported in a number of cases across a diverse range of sports since then.
The International Rugby Board’s anti-doping website had said that “sanctions involving this substance start at two years”.

However, the case is complicated by the fact the substance was reclassified by Wada this year and placed on the "specified stimulant" list at the start of this year, due to the fact it has started to appear in a number of nutritional supplements.

According to Wada, the substances on this list are "more susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation", and if that is proved to be the case, the athlete might just receive a warning.

Murray, who was a former professional player with Gloucester and Worcester Warriors, the English Premiership clubs, before moving to Dubai, hopes to reduce the ban on appeal.

Combining a career as a amateur player with a job in the construction industry, Murray said he is distraught at the prospect of missing two years of playing competitive rugby.

“I have played rugby since I was five years old, and played six years of professional rugby and have not once tried to break the rules or gain an unfair advantage over anyone,” Murray said.

“I simply took four sips of a pre-match drink. I don’t take medication and I don’t even drink coffee, yet it turns out that this is in my system.

“It was such a small action and it might have ruined my rugby career out here."

Murray hopes his case will act as a deterrent, and urged the other amateur players in the UAE to be vigilant when it comes to nutrition.

"Negligence is no excuse, and I plead with all players to check what they are drinking,” he said.

Murray’s case is not unique among the teams at the Asian Five Nations, the top tier rugby competition on the continent. Three Sri Lankan players tested positive for a prohibited substance. As in Murray’s case, this was said to trace back to an energy drink in which the stimulant was present.

According to reports, a player from Japan, who are competing at the World Cup in New Zealand, also tested positive, apparently for a substance occurring in a hair-growth formula he was using to grow a moustache.

The UAE Rugby Association (UAE RA] refused to discuss Murray’s case.

“In the light of ongoing proceedings, the UAE RA will not make any comment,” Ian Bremner, the chief executive of the Rugby Association, said.

pradley@thenational.ae

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