Armitage fails in appeal against ban
February 10, 2011
Delon Armitage has the backing of his club London Irish. © Getty Images
England's Delon Armitage has had his appeal against an eight-week ban for pushing an anti-doping officer dismissed.
The London Irish fullback remains suspended until March 17, effectively guaranteeing he will play no part in England's Six Nations campaign. England's final match against Ireland is on March 19 and it is highly unlikely Martin Johnson would consider him for the trip to Dublin after two months out. The 27-year-old will also miss London Irish's next four Aviva Premiership matches, against Newcastle, Gloucester, Harlequins and Leeds.
Armitage was banned for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game after being found guilty of pushing and verbally abusing an anti-doping officer after London Irish's Aviva Premiership defeat to Bath on January 1. The case was without precedent in England. The Rugby Football Union's chief disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett equated the offence to abuse of a match official and branded Armitage's behaviour as "completely unacceptable".
London Irish disputed the ban claiming the sanction was "disproportionate" but the appeal panel of Ian Unsworth QC (chair), Gareth Rees QC and Dr Julian Morris upheld the original suspension meaning Armitage cannot play again until March 17.
Unsworth castigated Armitage for his actions and explained the appeals panel backed the original verdict because all players had to be aware of their obligations in the fight against doping.
"We came to the conclusion that having regard to the seriousness of this matter and considering the aggravating and mitigating features that the decision and sanction reached by the original panel was fair, reasonable and one which they were entitled to.
"The Rugby Football Union attaches the highest importance to the fight against doping in sport and thus considers the work of UKAD to be important to the reputation of rugby and sport as a whole. The work of the Doping Control Officers is of crucial importance in this field and players should be aware of their obligations to comply with the reasonable requirements of those officers.
"Mr Armitage was aggressive, bullying, persistent and threatening. He subjected the Doping Control Officer to a volley of abuse and he deserved better than that."
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