Featherstone Rovers prop James Lockwood has been given a two-year ban for breaching the Rugby Football League’s anti-doping regulations in the first finding of its kind in the UK.
The 29-year-old former Dewsbury forward was handed the suspension by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after a sample taken in an out-of-competition test last November returned a positive test for growth hormone releasing factors.
In a statement, UKAD said: “The Drug Control Centre at King’s College, London, identified the presence of Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (pralmorelin) and its metabolite in Mr Lockwood’s A sample.
“These are classified under section S2 of the WADA 2014 Prohibited List. This is the first finding of its kind in the UK.
“The athlete is banned from all competition from 3 March 2015 to 2 March 2017.”
Lockwood has spent the last three seasons with Featherstone after joining them from Dewsbury in 2012 and was in their team that lost 36-12 to Leigh in last October’s Championship Grand Final at Headingley.
A development in new technology is believed to be behind the discovery of pralmorelin in Lockwood’s body.
UKAD say the initial sample, which was submitted for analysis to the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London on December 8, failed to detect a prohibited substance but on January 27 they instructed the laboratory to look for growth hormone releasing factors and on February 26 pralmorelin was discovered.
Lockwood was issued with a charge notice on March 3, admitted the offence and waived his right to have his B Sample analysed.
He is the second Featherstone player this season to be handed a two-year suspension by UKAD.
Shaun Pick, 21, another member of Rovers’ 2014 Grand Final team, tested positive for metabolites of the anabolic steroid oxymetholone last November.
A statement from the club said: “Featherstone Rovers would like to reaffirm its support of the RFL and UKAD testing process and the success it is having in ridding the sport of those who seek to gain an unfair advantage both in and out of competition.
“Both of the recent suspensions were the result of UKAD tests in November 2014 and all players have once again been reminded of their responsibilities to themselves, their team mates and most importantly our club.
“Whilst those players who test positive face a lengthy spell away from the game, it is the club’s image which is tarnished and, as such, we will do everything possible, in partnership with the RFL, to advise and educate players as to the harm they can do their bodies and their career should they choose to follow this path.”