Johnson dismisses drug fears

England coach Martin Johnson has denied that English rugby has a drugs culture following the scandal currently taking place at Premiership outfit Bath.

Three months after former England prop Matt Stevens received a two-year ban for using cocaine, a trio of his former Bath team-mates terminated their contracts at the club earlier this week amidst rumours that they had failed to submit to testing for banned substances.

The allegations came to the fore following an end-of-season party in a London pub that ended in a brawl.

Former Wallabies lock Justin Harrison was released a year early from his contract with Bath in the aftermath of the incident and has since announced his retirement from rugby.

The players in question – Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins all deny refusing to produce samples for tests and are considering legal action for constructive dismissal and defamation.

Johnson said that England rugby’s drug-testing regime was in place to ensure the players would not partake in any recreational drug use.

‘You can never be complacent about these things but in my experience there is not a widespread drug problem in rugby,’ Johnson told AFP. ‘For instance, I got a call in my hotel bedroom because a tester wanted to see one of our guys who was on 24-hour notice.

‘The players are very aware of the testing procedures that are being used. It’s not just a deterrent – they realise what they’re throwing away if they get involved in it.’