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McCullough cleared of racism
January 24, 2007

European Rugby Cup have cleared Ulster lock Matt McCullough of two misconduct charges in relation to allegations of racist language towards London Irish winger Delon Armitage last month.

McCullough was charged with abusing Armitage "during and after the Heineken Cup Pool Five matches between the teams at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, December 9 2006 and at Ravenhill on Friday, December 15 2006."

McCullough appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Wednesday to answer the two misconduct complaints.

An ERC statement said: "Having heard four hours of evidence the independent disciplinary committee, chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland) and also comprising Paul Mauriac (France) and Aurwell Morgan (Wales), determined that a prima facie case had not been established.

"The disciplinary committee accordingly determined that the misconduct complaints against Mr McCullough should not be upheld."

A statement released by Ulster reacting to the decision said: "Both Ulster Rugby and Matt McCullough welcome the verdict of the Independent Disciplinary Committee.

"Throughout the period leading up to the hearing, Ulster Rugby and Matt McCullough strenuously denied that anything said was, or was intended to be of a racially derogatory nature.

"However, the need for ERC to fully investigate any claims of racism is recognised and, while the period leading up to the verdict has been difficult for Matt and his family, the hearing has provided an opportunity for Matt to clear his name.''

Responding to the disciplinary committee's verdict, Ulster said the decision not to uphold misconduct complaints against McCullough was welcomed.

``Both Ulster Rugby and Matt McCullough welcome the verdict of the independent disciplinary committee that today has determined the two misconduct complaints against Mr McCullough, regarding the alleged use of racist language towards Delon Armitage, should not be upheld,'' said Ulster, in a statement.

``Throughout the period leading up to the hearing, Ulster Rugby and Matt McCullough strenuously denied that anything said was, or was intended to be, of a racially derogative nature.

``However, the need for ERC to fully investigate any claims of racism is recognised, and while the period leading up to the verdict has been difficult for Matt and his family, the hearing has provided an opportunity for Matt to clear his name.''

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