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On This Day - Matt Stevens leaves Bath following two-year drugs ban

By PA
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

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England prop Matt Stevens announced he was quitting Bath following his two-year drugs ban on this day in 2009.

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Stevens was banned from all rugby until January 18, 2011 after testing positive for cocaine.

The 26-year-old revealed in an interview with the Times he was leaving the Guinness Premiership club before he was sacked.

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“I have to do the honourable thing,” Stevens said. “I am quitting before they sack me. I want to spare the club who have been so good to me.

“I can’t thank the coaches enough for the support they have shown me, and the players. Everyone has been magnificent. Again I can only say how sorry I am at letting people down.”

The South Africa-born prop was selected at random to provide a urine sample following Bath’s Heineken Cup win over Glasgow on December 14, 2008 – only a fortnight after winning his 32nd England cap.

Stevens felt the pressure of professional sport contributed to his cocaine addiction.

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He said: “A lot of people don’t understand how much pressure there is on professional sportsmen. I am not making excuses as there are hundreds of professionals in the world who deal with it well. I wasn’t one of them.”

Stevens revealed his use of the drug only became a serious problem towards the end of 2008, when he used to take it alone at night.

“That was the worst,” he said. “I would end up binge-drinking and then looking for oblivion somewhere else.

“Coupled with the personal stuff and the actual pressure of rugby, it sometimes felt easy just to lose myself. I can’t believe I would do that to myself. I am a confident, ambitious, social person. That I would be addicted to anything is completely incomprehensible to me right now.”

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Stevens signed for Saracens upon the completion of his ban and returned to the England fold as well as earning a call-up for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour, although he did not play a match.

He returned to his native South Africa in 2014 to play for the Sharks before retiring the following year after a spell back in Europe with Toulon.

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