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USA Sevens team rocked as Unufe banned after failed drugs test

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Maka Unufe poses for portrait (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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The USA Sevens team have been rocked by the news that Maka Unufe has failed a drugs test.


USA Rugby confirmed that Unufe tested positive for Heptaminol on July 13th last year, a banned substance in accordance with World Rugby Regulation 21 anti-doping policy.

Unufe was taking a dietary supplement, for which he thoroughly reviewed the label and ingredients, which gave no indication to the presence of Heptaminol.

USA Rugby Director of Medical Michael Keating sent the supplement for testing, where it was confirmed the banned substance was present despite not being listed within the product’s ingredients.

Following a number of appeals and hearings, World Rugby acknowledged that Unufe acted without intent; however, in accordance with a strict zero tolerance anti-doping policy, has upheld a 14-month suspension.

As the suspension dates back to the original date of citation in July, Unufe will be eligible for training and competition ahead of the 2020 World Rugby Sevens Series and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

(Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Maka Unufe during Singapore Sevens at National Stadium on April 16, 2017 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Director of Medical, Michael Keating said: “This is an unfortunate instance of a tainted supplement in an unregulated industry. We urge all athletes to use extreme caution when considering nutritional supplements.”

Maka Unufe said: “This was a really unfortunate circumstance and a huge learning lesson for me. Because I was afraid to ask for guidance, I’ve had to face some very difficult consequences.

“In the same way I’ve learned from this experience, I want to set an example for other athletes in our game and help them understand that it’s important to ask questions and seek support from the coaches and staff around them.

“Rugby means a lot to me and I don’t want any future Eagles to sacrifice their opportunity to wear the jersey out of fear of asking for help.”


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