Armitage admits remorse over ban
March 24, 2011
Delon Armitage is set to make his London Irish comeback this weekend © Getty Images
London Irish fullback Delon Armitage has admitted that he deserved his eight-week suspension for abusing a doping control officer.
The 27-year-old's ban expired last week and he is in line for a return to action in the Exiles' clash with Exeter this weekend. Armitage was sanctioned for pushing and verbally abusing the official, who approached him to conduct a routine test immediately after a defeat to Bath on New Year's Day.
His behaviour was later described as "aggressive, bullying, persistent and threatening" by a Rugby Football Union appeals panel.
"Looking back at it, no I wasn't surprised to be cited," he said. "What I did was wrong and I regret it. I deserved what I got because of what I did. I've apologised to the officer who didn't deserve it, he was obviously just trying to do his job.
"It shouldn't have happened, regardless of what state I was in. It's tough losing a match like that, especially when you're so passionate about the game, but it still shouldn't have happened.
"It was a bitter pill to swallow being banned for eight weeks, which is basically the whole Six Nations, but I had to accept that I'd slipped up. I regret what I did and I want to get back playing and start doing the right things on the field."
Despite the fact that he was approached moments after he had left the pitch in the last-gasp 25-24 defeat at the Madejski Stadium, Armitage rejects the suggestion that players should be given time to compose themselves before being tested.
"The RFU do the best they can within the laws to help the players and the officers," he said. "They're doing the right thing and I need to abide by it and follow the rules."
Due to the ban, Armitage missed out on playing a part in England's first Six Nations title since 2003. "I'd train with England on the Monday and Tuesday and then go back to Irish," he said. "It was nice to still be involved and have some input into the training.
"It was tough watching England do so well, but we're a squad and ultimately we want England to do well. We all want the same outcome, which is for England to win games. When you're in the 30-man EPS [Elite Player Squad] you're part of that team."
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