Sale Sharks have confirmed that prop Jake Pope has been handed a six-month ban after testing positive for cocaine for a second time. The 21-year-old admitted the first offence after a test in September 2017 found “cocaine or its metabolites”, for which he was fined £1,000.
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However, he is now the first player to be found guilty of twice breaching the Rugby Football Union’s illicit drugs policy. Pope is now banned from 4 December 2018, the date of his provisional suspension, until 4 June 2019. Due to RFU policy, first-time offences are not made public but in a statement Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs Programme manager Stephen Watkins confirmed Pope’s second offence.
He told reporters: “The purpose of the Illicit Drugs Policy is primarily to protect the health and welfare of players. This means that, in the first instance, the problem can be dealt with as a confidential health-related issue. “This is the first time we have had a second offence since the policy was established in 2010. It should send a strong deterrent message to all players that the RFU takes the misuse of substances seriously.”