BOULDER, Colo. -- The International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed today Friday that USA wing James Paterson has been handed a four-month ban for testing positive for the painkiller oxycodone during the 2011 Rugby World Cup in September.
Oxycodone is classified on the WADA Prohibited List as a Narcotic and prohibited in competition only. It is also classified as a specified substance.
Paterson’s provisional ban began October 13, 2011 and he will be able to return to action on February 13, 2012.
The USA team physician prescribed and dispensed oxycodone to Paterson after he sustained a significant shoulder injury in the match against Russia on September 15, 2011. He was drug tested after the match with Italy on September 27.
At the time of testing, Paterson disclosed the medications he was on, including oxycodone.
“We must sincerely apologize to James who was very understanding and candid throughout this entire ordeal. James’s character or integrity should not be in question whatsoever,” said USA Rugby CEO and President of Rugby Operations, Nigel Melville. “Trust is at the center of this issue, and James was acting on the trust he had in the medical staff. Unfortunately, the blame lies with the player rather than the doctor who made a serious error.”
IRB Anti-Doping Manager Tim Ricketts said, "The main message to come from this error is that all medical personnel and players must be diligent in checking all medications whether it be over the counter or prescription medicine to ensure it does not contain any prohibited substances. Under the strict liability principle a player is responsible for any prohibited substance found in their system.”
Melville noted that the medical and support staff will be far more aware and better informed moving forward.
“We have already reviewed our education process for our medical staff and we will be implementing more robust internal controls that make sure every player is protected. We need to have a clear system of checks and balances and, ultimately, make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” said Melville.
USA Rugby Director of Medical Services, Mike Keating, has identified the pitfalls of the USA Rugby procedures and protocols and will be charged with delivering a comprehensive training program focused predominantly on medical and support staff. An element of player education will also be included.