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Aviva Premiership
Armitage handed three-week ban
ESPNscrum Staff
May 3, 2011
London Irish's Delon Armitage on his return to action after a lengthy suspension, London Irish v Exeter Chiefs, Aviva Premiership, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, March 26, 2011
England international Delon Armitage was suspended for eight weeks earlier this season © Getty Images
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London Irish and England fullback Delon Armitage has been banned for three weeks after pleading guilty to striking Northampton fly-half Stephen Myler during their recent Aviva Premiership clash.

The 27-year-old, who missed the entire Six Nations campaign for pushing and abusing an anti-doping officer, was this time cited following the Saints' narrow 26-20 victory at the Madejski Stadium on April 23.

His ban, imposed after he pleaded guilty at a disciplinary hearing in London this afternoon, takes effect from tomorrow until May 10 and then from May 24 to June 6.

As a result, Armitage misses sixth-placed Irish's final league game away to leaders Leicester this Saturday and also England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 29. In a further blow to his hopes of World Cup selection, he will also be unavailable for England Saxons' opening game of the Churchill Cup against the United States in Northampton on June 4.

But, given that he could have been put out of the game for eight weeks again, the panel's decision does give him the chance to stake his claim in the rest of that competition. The Saxons face Tonga in Gloucester on June 12 and then either Canada, Russia or Italy A the following weekend.

Armitage was reported by independent citing officer Alan Mansell for hitting Myler after a tackle in the corner close to the end of the match. He faced a three-man RFU panel consisting of chairman Jeremy Summers, Philip Evans and Peter Budge.

Ben Foden has established himself as England's first choice full-back, but Armitage's ability to play at 15, centre or on the wing makes him a valuable option for team manager Martin Johnson. He appealed unsuccessfully against his previous suspension, imposed for and verbally abusing the doping control officer, who approached him to conduct a routine test immediately after the Exiles' defeat to Bath on January 1.

On that unprecedented occasion the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett, branded his behaviour "completely unacceptable" and panel chairman Ian Unsworth QC said: "Mr Armitage was aggressive, bullying, persistent and threatening...He subjected the doping control officer to a volley of abuse."

In tonight's RFU statement, chairman Summers said, "This offence was assessed at being at the low end of the scale of seriousness and as such led to an entry-point suspension of two weeks.

"The player's record and the fact that he had recently returned from a period of suspension was an aggravating feature which warranted an increase in that suspension by one week. The overall suspension of three weeks will not apply between May 8 and 23 as the player will have no games in that period.

"He is accordingly ineligible to play from May 4 to May 10 and May 24 to June 6 and will not be able to have any match day involvement during those periods."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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