An RFU grassroots rugby player in England has been banned from the sport for four years after failing a doping test in 2019. Max Drage of Haywards Heath is serving a suspension from January 10, 2020, through to January 9, 2024. A statement from the RFU read: “Drage provided a urine sample in-competition at Haywards Heath RFC’s ground on November 16, 2019. 


“The sample returned an adverse analytical finding for S4 hormone and metabolic modulators and S1 anabolic androgenic steroids. These are prohibited substances as defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list 2019.

“Drage was charged with a breach of World Rugby regulation 21.2.1 – the presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or parkers in a player’s sample.”

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Stephen Watkins, the RFU anti-doping and illicit drugs programme manager, said: “All rugby players are subject to the anti-doping rules which are in place to protect players and the integrity of our sport.”

Among the RFU submissions listed in the full judgement in the doping case, it was noted that Drage had ignored attempts to contact him. “The player has not disputed the presence of the prohibited substances in his sample,” it read. 

“There has been no communication with the player at all. The RFU submitted that consequently, the position as per WR regulation is that the player has ‘admitted the violation’. 

“The RFU also submitted that the player’s Instagram post is indicative of his knowledge, attitude and position in relation to the process.”


In her decision, Michelle Duncan wrote on behalf of the tribunal: “There is no basis for any period of reduction of the period of ineligibility for no fault or negligence or no significant fault or negligence.

“Mr Drage shall not be permitted to participate in any capacity in a competition or other activity (other than authorised anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes) organised, convened or authorised by the RFU or anybody that is a member of, affiliated to, or licensed by the RFU.”

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