MacLeod relieved to escape drugs ban
February 25, 2008
Scotland lock Scott MacLeod insists justice has been done after he was given the green light to play on - but admits it was a harrowing experience to be told he had failed a drug test.
The 28-year-old Llanelli Scarlets forward tested positive for Terbutaline, a recognised asthma medication which is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency unless permission is sought and granted in advance.
Because MacLeod had naively switched one inhaler for another, he had unwittingly committed a doping offence.
There were distinct differences between the Salbutamol inhaler - which he had permission to use after obtaining a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) - and the Terbutaline inhaler.
He gladly accepted a reprimand and a warning that, should he commit the same offence again, the punishment will be a two-year suspension.
And MacLeod insists the experience has taught him a valuable lesson.
He took the UK Sport random test on January 25 and thought nothing of it until being advised of his infraction on February 14.
''I was shocked, really. I couldn't believe it, to be honest,'' said MacLeod.
He had not realised it was essential to specify the exact type of inhaler he uses to treat his asthma.
MacLeod explained: ''I thought that the TUE form specified that I have asthma and that I take an asthma reliever for it.
''I have had asthma all my life and I've never left the house since I was five years old without having an inhaler. I couldn't play sport without having an inhaler with me at all times.
''I was shocked and I'm glad it is all over now. I won't make the same mistake again.''
MacLeod went in front of an independent judiciary committee last week and could have been banned for one year, however he was cleared to continue with his playing career and lined up for Scotland against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday knowing the threat of a suspension had been lifted.
UK Sport and the IRB have accepted the Judicial Committee's decision and in their eyes the matter is concluded.
Terbutaline, when injected, can have anabolic effects, however MacLeod's explanation convinced the committee that by using his inhaler he had not gained or sought to gain any sporting advantage.
''They pretty much accepted that I had made a genuine mistake,'' he said.
''They listened to what I had to say, looked at my medical history and they were pretty understanding.''
Gregor Nicholson, the Scottish Rugby Union's international administrations manager, said: ''From our point of view, he is completely cleared.
''The judicial committee confirmed last Monday that Scott's only sanction was the warning and the reprimand.
''He had been provisionally suspended on receipt of the result on Thursday February 14, and as of last Monday [February 18], when the judicial committee intimated its decision, that provisional suspension was lifted.
''Confirmation was given to Scott that the only sanction was a warning and a reprimand.
''Scott had seven days on receipt of the committee's decision to determine whether he will appeal, and today he has confirmed that he accepts the decisionand will not be appealing.
''The independent judicial committee, as with all on-field discipline cases, was appointed through the SRU. But it is entirely independent of the SRU.
''We have kept UK Sport and the International Rugby Board [IRB] fully appraised of this whole procedure.
''They have received a copy of the full decision of the judicial committee, it is entirely in the IRB's, UK Sport's and the World Anti Doping Agency's hands to review this whole process. It's all very open and above board.
''There is no requirement for them to do anything. They simply have the right to review the case and if they are unhappy with any aspect of it they can ask us to hold a formal review.
''They would need to intimate that they weren't happy with an aspect of the procedure.''
The International Rugby Board and UK Sport have both made it clear they are satisfied with the way the SRU have handled the situation, and WADA are unlikely to object given the circumstances.
Nicholson is in the process of working through an action plan in co-operation with Scotland team doctor James Robson to ensure that similar mistakes are not make in the future.
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