Malta rugby national half-back Roderick Attard handed two-year UK doping ban

Malta half-back Roderick Attard has been suspended from rugby league for two years after breaching Rugby Football League doping regulations.

The former Gateshead Thunder player gave a sample containing 'metabolites of nandrolone', a banned substance.

"The National Anti-Doping Panel have found him guilty of an anti-doping rule violation," an RFL statement read.

"Attard's suspension commences from March 2 2010 which is the day his provisional suspension commenced."

BBC News reported that Attard made just one appearance for Gateshead, appearing in a friendly against Castleford Tigers in December 2009.

Meanwhile Thunder have pledged their support to doping regulations following the ruling, and stressed the club's vigilance to doping and efforts made to prohibit the use of drugs to aid performance.

"Gateshead Thunder do not condone doping and the club offer extensive anti doping education to all players," Thunder chairman Rod Findlay said.

 "Unfortunately, Rod was tested only two days into his stay with the club and before he received any education.

"He did not realise that he could have applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption which would have avoided the charge and unfortunately there is no room in the rules for a retrospective application.

"I do not believe for a moment that Rod took steroids to gain a sporting advantage and his only game for the club was a friendly against Castleford Tigers.

"The rules are drafted to catch deliberate cheats and unfortunately they sometimes also catch players such as Rod who have a good explanation for their actions.

"Rod was only with the club for a short time but he was a popular character and we wish him all the best back home in Malta."

The club statement also read: "The panel heard and accepted evidence that both sports medicine and rugby league facilities are not as advanced in Malta as they are in the UK. "The panel also accepted that there is limited anti-doping education in Malta and that the player had taken the substance to recover from shoulder surgery.

"Rod Attard's recovery was slow and it was affecting his ability to carry out his full-time employment.

"The substance was taken before he was invited to Thunder's trials in November 2009.

"However, the anti-doping rules are very strict and the mere presence of the substance in the players system is sufficient to constitute a doping violation."

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