Wed, Jul 22, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Harrison handed eight-month ban by RFU for drug offenses

REUTERS , LONDON

Former Australia international Justin Harrison has been suspended from playing and coaching for eight months after admitting to taking cocaine while under contract with Bath, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Monday.

Harrison, 35, was released early from his contract in May prior to a club misconduct hearing over his behavior at an end-of-season celebration in London that ended with him being punched in the face during a fracas.

Three other players, former England international Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins, also quit Bath shortly before they were to attend a disciplinary hearing over allegedly missing a drug test. All three face another RFU hearing where they said they intended to contest the charges.

Harrison, who retired at the end of the season, admitted to three charges of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game, including taking cocaine in the toilets of a west London pub.

He also admitted shouting “Class A, it’s OK, everyone’s doing it” on a coach containing members of Bath’s Academy and failing to attend a Bath drug test four days later.

During the hearing, Harrison said he could not explain why he had taken cocaine and said he had never done it before. He also said other Bath players were involved.

Harrison resigned from Bath on May 14 after a meeting with Bath’s chief executive. He also pulled out of the Barbarians tour. The club issued a statement at the time saying his decision had been for “family reasons.”

RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett said Harrison risked his reputation during a “few moments of madness” caused by drinking too much.

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