After a hearing staged in Cardiff on 28 and 29 July, 2003, the three man panel - Patrick Harrington QC (chairman), Professor John Williams and Dennis Hughes - found that the Penygraig RFC secretary, Mr Peter Bowen, as an officer of the club, had "wilfully obstructed or interfered" with the carrying out of doping control tests. Following submissions by the legal representatives for the WRU and Mr Bowen, the Panel ordered that he should be suspended from holding office or being involved in the management of or coaching at any rugby club affiliated to the WRU for a period of three years. Mr Bowen has subsequently appealed against the severity of his sentence.
In relation to the players, 22 had been charged with the offence of failing to submit to doping control tests and 19 of them initially submitted guilty pleas. The disciplinary panel imposed on the players a period of suspension of 18 months with immediate effect. Those players banned for 18 months were: Ian Jones, Ian Deasy, Geraint Long, Gavin Owen, Gareth Davies, Gareth James, Gareth Blaken, Dean Perry, Carl Hammans, Anthony Lloyd, Andrew Thomas, Adrian Lewis, Mark Bowcott, Matthew Hutchings, Nigel Hendy, Paul Dunning, Peter Hinken, Richard Thomas and Steve Walker.
Subsequently, 15 of the 19 players who had been found guilty by their own admission argued that the solicitor who represented them had no authority to admit the offences on their behalf. Accordingly, they made an application to the disciplinary panel to set aside their admissions of guilt and to re-open the entire case against them.
Each of the 15 were represented by barristers and the disciplinary panel head the application, which took a number of days, before refusing the application in relation to 14 of the 15 players.
They allowed the application in relation to one player, Gareth Davies, who was allowed to have his case re-opened. His case was subsequently heard at the same time as the cases against the three players who had denied the charge, Shane McIntosh, Nick Jones and Jason Ronan.
However, after hearing the evidence, Gareth Davies was found guilty of the offence of which he had been charged. They will consider the penalty afresh when they reconvene. Mr McIntosh, Mr Jones and Mr Ronan were found not guilty of the charges.
The disciplinary panel chairman has yet to publish the full reasons for its decisions in relation to the setting aside of the pleas and in relation to the hearings against the Mr Davies, Mr McIntosh, Mr Jones and Mr Ronan. It is hoped these decisions will be made available at a hearing which is likely to take place at the start of next month.
David Moffett, the WRU Group Chief Executive, said: "We are obviously waiting to hear from the panel the reasons for their decisions.
"However, the WRU can confirm that 19 of the 22 Penygraig match day squad have either admitted, or been found guilty of, a doping offence - namely refusing to provide a drug test - and of course the Penygraig club secretary has also been found guilty of an offence under the Union's regulations.
"As the governing body of the game in Wales, the WRU is determined to enforce its own anti-doping regulations, which are consistent with those of the IRB and IOC, and will continue to co-operate with UK Sport in that respect."
20 January, 2004