No drug problem in Welsh athletics, says chief executive

DOPING CHARGE: Gareth Warburton was the first Welsh athlete to fail a drugs test last week

DOPING CHARGE: Gareth Warburton was the first Welsh athlete to fail a drugs test last week

First published in Sport South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

WELSH athletics chief executive Matt Newman insists that there is not a drug problem in the sport in Wales.

Hurdler Rhys Williams today became the second Welsh athlete to be banned from Glasgow 2014 after failing a drugs test.

Williams, son of 1970s Welsh rugby legend JJ, follows 800m runner Gareth Warburton is being charged with an anti-doping violation.

“I don’t think there is a problem in Welsh athletics,” said Newman.

“We take our responsibility seriously and we have been a clean advocate of a clean sport.

“We have a close relationship with UK athletics and anti-doping agency and made sure there is a comprehensive education in place from the academy athletes up to the international.

“They all have that message reiterated time and time again.

The news that Williams, the reigning European 400m hurdles champion, had failed a drugs test came as a huge shock and embarrassment to Team Wales.

“It is a massive blow for athletics in Wales and this is not something we ever envisaged," added Newman.

“It’s devastating for the sport.

“There is going to be an impact today but the athletes are very professional and will focus on what they have to do next week.

“Rhys was a major medal contender and it’s just another piece of bad news to other athletes that have dropped out through injury and accreditation issues like Fred Evans.

“It does not help Team Wales or Welsh Athletics.”

Newman suggested that there are similarities with the Gareth Warburton situation.

“There are some common factors in the two situations but that detail is part of the process that we can’t talk about,” he said.

“The fact there has been two cases in a short space of time means it’s not a coincidence.

“But at this stage we just hope can back up what the athletes suspect is the source of the contamination."

Newman added: "Rhys has been devastated at the news.

“It came a day after it was announced he would be the team captain in Glasgow.

“He was in the final preparations and was about to fly into Glasgow from Portugal for the Games.

“He was contacted on Tuesday and notified of the formal charge against him.

“He has responded to that initial letter which he has 24 hours to do.

“He requested the B sample and then a hearing to be convened which is unlikely to happen before September to allow a case to be made.”

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