A former Cardiff Blues lock has received a two-year ban for testing positive for a substance associated with steroid use.
Miles Normandale, then of Cardiff RFC, has been suspended from all sport for a period of two years following the Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).
He claims to have taken the substance before an opportunity had presented itself for him to return to the sport in a professional capacity after an injury had all but ended his career.
Normandale played both professionally and on semi-professional level for Cardiff Blues, Rotherham Titans and Cardiff RFC.
On 17 November 2017 during a match for Cardiff RFC against Cross Keys RFC he suffered an injury to an ankle. Initially it was thought that he had sprained the ankle, but by early January 2018 it had become apparent that the injury was much more serious.
He required surgery, and on 29 January 2018 he underwent a right ankle arthroscopy and syndesmosis stabilisation. At around this time Normandale’s contract with Cardiff RFC was terminated since he had not been able to play for over six weeks; he received his final payment from Cardiff RFC on 31 January 2018.
The then 27-year-old was assigned to Southmead University Hospital for post-operative physiotherapy. He made slow progress and remained in pain with his ankle still swollen. However, he made a gradual, if slow, recovery with the metalwork in his ankle being surgically removed on 4 July 2018. Despite some complication by way of infection, the forward continued to build up his strength with gym sessions some 3-4 times a week.
It was in August 2018 that he told UKAD that he was contacted out of the blue by Cardiff RFC who enquired if he would be willing to return to playing rugby. Normandale’s evidence was that he had for some months thought his rugby playing days were over, but by August 2018 he was attracted by the idea of returning to semiprofessional rugby with Cardiff RFC and did so.
He signed a new contract dated 15 August 2018 and returned to training. His first match was against Newport RFC on 15 September 2018.
On 20 September 2018 Normandale was subject to a random urine and blood test by a UKAD Doping Control Officer during a Cardiff RFC training session. The urine test was found to be positive for Clomifene, a Prohibited Substance specified under S4 of the WADA Prohibited List as an anti-estrogenic substance.
It is a Specified Substance, and it is prohibited at all times, both in and out of competition. Although the blood test gave no positive result, UKAD were told in evidence that blood is not regularly tested for Clomifene.
Following the positive result, he was provisionally suspended.
Clomifene has a medical use for the stimulation of ovulation in women, but it has no established clinical indication for men. It is however used unofficially by anabolic steroid users to counteract the production of estrogen in males due to steroid abuse.
Giving evidence, the lock forward was the principal witness on his own behalf.
He explained that he wanted to improve his physique on a trip to Australia during which he intended to propose to his girlfriend, and a friend recommended Clomifene as a way of boosting testosterone. The friend gave him a week’s supply of, he thinks, 50 mg tablets of a brand called Serpafar at the beginning of April. He said that he took one 50mg tablet a day for seven days from 9 to 15 April, which was the week before he left for Australia and that was all the Clomifene he ever took.
He said that by this time he thought his rugby playing days were over. He had not played for many months following his ankle injury, his contract with Cardiff RFC had been terminated, and he had decided in consultation with his family no longer to undergo the physical risk of returning to rugby.
Rather, he hoped to concentrate on his tattooing career. According to the judgement, on 20 September 2018 Normandale was “undoubtedly subject” to the jurisdiction of the Welsh Rugby Union.
UKAD’s Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead, said: “Athletes at all levels of sport must adhere to the principle of strict liability at all times.
“Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs) can remain in the body for a significant period of time so, regardless of whether an athlete is going through injury rehabilitation, taking a break from sport or actively competing, they must always be aware of the consequences of any substances they are putting into their systems.”
The period of ineligibility shall apply from the date of sample collection (20 September 2018) until midnight on 19 September 2020.
– source UKAD
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