The captain of the Romania Sevens rugby union team has been banned for four years after being tested during a training session.
Stephen Hihetah of Hull RUFC has been banned from all sport for four years from 12 June 2019 until 11 June 2023.
Hihetah provided a urine sample following a training session on 21 February 2019 which returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for the Prohibited Substances Stanozolol metabolites, Metandienone metabolite and Tamoxifen metabolite.
He was charged with a breach of World Rugby regulation 21.2.1, “Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in a player’s Sample.”
The player’s case was that he travelled to London on 16 December 2018 and returned to Hull on 3 January 2019.
During that time, he trained at Genesis Gym Acton together with a friend on approximately six occasions, assuming this to be twice weekly for the three weeks he was in London.
Stephen Hihetah, the English-born captain of the Romania 7s rugby union team, banned for four years for steroids. Also played for Hull RFC. Anti-doping panel unconvinced by his claims he took it by mistake. pic.twitter.com/oneR9r7vjw
— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) December 18, 2019
Before most of these sessions began, he took a pre-workout drink that his friend had prepared. The player believed that the source of his positive test result was the pre-workout drink, because his friend had subsequently told him that it contained a powder supplied to him by a fellow weight lifter, and that said weightlifter had later told his friend that the powder he provided contained substances that, if tested, would lead to a failed anti-doping test.
The friend in question gave testimony, saying it was he who inadvertently spiked Hihetah’s pre-workout.
— Hull RUFC (@hullrugbyunion) April 1, 2017
“During the Christmas period 2018 Stephen and I trained together numerous times. Stephen and I regularly train together when he is back in London. During the time frame, I provided him with an old ‘home made’ pre work out powder. The pre-workout contained caffeine for energy, some BCAA for endurance and fatigue and the pre-mix supplement that was given to me from a gym member for increased strength. This is a workout powder I have personally taken in the past and continued to use after Stephen went back up north.
“I recently in passing spoke to the lifter at Genesis Gym, regarding the pre-mix supplement he had given me. He said, (within the context of our conversation regarding Stephen’s drug test) without disclosing the exact ingredients, that if I was to be tested I or he would fail.
“This was new news to me and in turn I informed Stephen, I was disgusted and appalled by this information.”
RFU Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs Programme Manager Stephen Watkins said: “All rugby players are subject to the anti-doping rules which are in place to protect players and the integrity of our sport.”
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