Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Sailor claims his two-year drug ban is `grossly unfair'

AP , SYDNEY

Wendell Sailor leaves his manager's house in Sydney on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Australian rugby union winger Wendell Sailor says his two-year suspension for cocaine use is "grossly unfair" and he has vowed to make a comeback after serving his ban.

Sailor told the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney he planned to embark on a career in Japan or France when he is allowed to return to rugby union, despite the fact he will be almost 34.

The dual rugby union-rugby league international said he would then consider a career swansong in rugby league with his first club -- the Brisbane Broncos -- at age 35.

"Right now, I'm gutted. But I'd be bitter if it ended on these terms," he said yesterday. It's going to take me a few days to get my head around this, but I know I don't want my career to end like this."

"My career's on hold for two years, but I reckon I could play two or three more years after it [the suspension] is over," he said.

Sailor, who had his contract with the New South Wales Waratahs and Australian Rugby Union terminated on Friday after a judicial hearing last week in Sydney, said he was not a drug cheat and was angered at the harshness of his penalty.

"I was hoping for some leniency here because I've never taken drugs to enhance my performance," he said.

"I'm not playing the victim. I've made a mistake, but this was stupid more than anything. To cop two years ... it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth," Sailor said.

The ARU said an independent judicial committee had found the 32-year-old Sailor guilty of taking a prohibited substance -- Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. He tested positive following a Super 14 match between his New South Wales Waratahs and the ACT Brumbies on April 16.

Sailor played 21 internationals for Australia in rugby league. He switched from rugby league in 2002 for a lucrative union contract, initially to the Queensland Reds.

He has scored 13 tries in 37 tests for the Wallabies.

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