'Ban drug cheats for life', says Brian Carney
Last Updated: 22/04/15 5:24pm
Sky Sports pundit Brian Carney says any players caught taking drugs should be banned from rugby league for life.
On Tuesday James Lockwood of Featherstone Rovers became the latest player to be given a two year ban for breaching the Rugby Football League's anti-doping regulations.
The 29-year-old forward was handed the suspension by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after a sample taken in an out of competition test in November returned a positive test for growth hormone releasing factors.
The two-year ban is insufficient for the indiscretion according to Brian Carney, who says the athletes should be banned from the game for life.
"I just don't think two year bans are long enough - these players have no place in our game,” Carney told Sky Sports News.
“I wouldn't mind seeing a lifetime ban. You know now what happens; if you take drugs, you're going to get banned, but ban them for life."
In the UK there are currently 68 athletes serving bans for doping violations, with nine of those rugby league players.
Asked if the numbers were worryingly high for rugby league, Carney said it could be an indication of the strict policing of the sport’s anti-doping regulations.
"You need to look at the statistics relative to participation rates,” said Carney. “A figure on its own - that seven players are banned or ten players are banned - is meaningless if there is a hundred-million playing the game. You need to look at it as a percentage.
"Having said that, I would imagine there are far more kids playing football in this country than there is playing rugby league, yet football doesn't rate high up on that list. So, to that extent I would say that looks like a worrying number.
“However on the flip side of it, if you were putting a politician's hat on, you would say that anti-doping testing in rugby league is working because they're finding the drug cheats."
Carney also spoke about returning star Sam Tomkins, who has once again signed for Wigan Warriors. The Warriors team he finds himself in this time is a very different one according to Carney, but the former Wigan player says there will have been some change in Tomkins too.
"He did leave on a high - in 2013 he went out lifting the Grand Final trophy at Old Trafford. He went out from a very different Wigan side; it's in a transition phase now.
“So the team that Sam is going to come back into will be markedly different.
"But the good thing for Wigan and for Sam is that he will be a markedly different player.
"He's gone into the NRL competition under more pressure, I believe, than most players in recent years. Adrian Morley went down and was a huge success, Sam Burgess a huge success, Gareth Ellis and James Graham too.
"But they didn't go down under under the same pressure as Sam Tomkins. He went down there, picked up a couple of injuries, but he was finding his feet certainly. He had a good season last year, and is predicted to have an even better one this year.
"So he will come back a different player, just into a slightly different Wigan side.
"But he will have an impact - a huge impact."