Bath trio "shocked" at RFU decision
June 18, 2009
Former Bath centre Alex Crockett will be called in front of the RFU along with colleagues Andrew Higgins, Michael Lipman and Justin Harrison © Getty Images
Former Bath trio Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins have reacted to the news that they will be called before an RFU disciplinary panel to answer a charge of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game, including "taking prohibited substances and wilful refusal to take a drugs test".
In a statement released by solicitors, the players described that they were "shocked and disappointed" with the early findings of the RFU investigation. Former Australia lock Justin Harrison has also been called before the panel for his part in the alleged trouble at the club's end of season party.
Lipman, Higgins and Crockett terminated their contracts with Bath ahead of an internal hearing in to the reports, while Harrison also left the club, requesting an early release from his deal before retiring from the game.
"We are extremely surprised and disappointed both by the RFU's decision to convene a disciplinary panel and the terms of their statement," read the players' statement. "Any charges brought by the RFU will be vigorously contested. This is a matter that we take very seriously and will do everything possible in order to clear our names. For legal reasons we are unable to comment further at this stage."
The trio will face lengthy bans if found guilty of drugs offences, a fact that they will be well aware of after their former team-mate Matt Stevens was banned for two years after admitting a cocaine problem.
Bath chief executive Bob Calleja also issued a statement, saying: "The club treats matters relating to drugs very seriously and we are perfectly satisfied that we acted correctly in requiring the players to explain themselves at an internal disciplinary hearing.
"They chose not to do so and, so far as we are concerned, our internal process is at an end, the players no longer being employed by the club."
"When Mike Burton was sent off I thought the world had gone crazy - just Pommy bashing, hitting anyone." Behind the Rose heads back to 1975
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes