Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Harlequins escape European Cup ban over blood scandal

AFP , LONDON

Harlequins have escaped a ban from the lucrative European Cup despite the fake blood scandal that has seen the English Premiership club hit with a massive fine and former rugby director Dean Richards banned for three years.

The Cup’s organizers, European Rugby Cup (ERC), ruled on Wednesday that there was “no reason to interfere with the participation of Harlequins in the 2009-10 European Cup.”

However, they also warned that there could be further action against individuals at Quins when they meet again next week.

The ERC said in its appeal hearing of Richards that the 46-year-old former Leicester and England No 8 had been central to the blood cheating scandal that shamed Harlequins.

Quins winger Tom Williams faked a blood injury to allow a substitution to be made in last April’s European Cup quarter-­final against Leinster.

He was given a fake blood capsule in an attempt to get goal kicker Nick Evans, who had earlier left the field injured, back into the action with the score at 6-5 in Leinster’s favor — the Irish province went on to win the game.

Quins were hit with a £260,000 (US$425,400) fine, while Richards was forced to resign after being banned from rugby for three years and Williams was also given a four-month ban.

“Richards was the directing mind and had central control over everything that happened in relation to the fabrication of the blood injury on the pitch, and the cover-up in the days after the match,” the ERC said on Wednesday.

“The only aspect of the matter in which the appeal committee determined he did not have direct involvement was the alleged cutting of Mr Williams’ lip by Dr [Wendy] Chapman,” the ERC said. “It was Mr Richards who had instigated and directed arrangements which enabled the fabrication of blood injuries.”

The ERC will meet next week to decide if there could be further action against individuals at Quins given that Richards had encouraged others to deliberately mislead the investigating bodies.

The Rugby Football Union later said it would take no further action until the ERC had made its final decisions.

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