Sevens world found totally free of doping
The world of sevens is as clean as a whistle, with a stringent anti-doping programme revealing zero positive cases.
The IRB undertook 1,714 tests, 587 in competition and 1,127 out of competition, across 15s and sevens in every continent during a year that also saw a record-sized blood-testing programme at the World Cup in New Zealand. There were only eight doping violations, less than half a per cent of the total tested, and none of them was in sevens.
Trevor Gregory (pictured), chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, said: 'It goes to show how clean rugby is when compared to other sports. The Hong Kong Sevens has been included in the drug-testing programme, and our own players are also tested out of competition. I'm very pleased to say we are clean.'
The world governing body's testing programme operated across the World Cup (989 tests), rugby sevens (489 tests), age-grade competition (138 tests), other IRB 15s tournaments (58) and regional championships like the HSBC Asian Five Nations (40 tests).
The eight doping violations, all in 15s, covered four for stimulants found in nutritional supplements, two for anabolic agents (testosterone), one for a diuretic (probenicid) and one for a narcotic (oxycodone) used for pain relief.
Tim Ricketts, the IRB's anti-doping manager, said: 'The IRB and its member unions are committed to the fight against doping in sport. While rugby continues to be at the forefront in the fight against doping in sport, we have a collective responsibility to ensure our players, physicians and administrators have access to the very best educational framework.'
Hong Kong coach Dai Rees said it was unlikely the sport would change overnight and become drug-ridden, with sevens now in the Olympics.
'There is no doping culture embedded in rugby and I don't think just because sevens will be a medal sport at the 2016 Olympics, that players will start taking drugs,' Rees said.
'There have been very few cases of players cheating with drugs. The IRB carries out a lot of testing and, as the figures for last year show, doping in rugby is rare. I don't think that overnight we will see a change.'
Hong Kong's sevens stars were also tested, both in competition and out of competition. Rees said: 'We are not in the 'A' category, and we don't get a knock on our door at midnight calling for random testing, but through the SI [Sports Institute] the players have to fill in a 'whereabouts calendar' and they are tested at the gym or during training sessions. We have also been tested at the Hong Kong Sevens and at the Asian Sevens Series, and in 15s during the Asian Five Nations.
'If I was to compare to when I was in charge of Wales [the national sevens team], Hong Kong is tested as much, if not even more. Even those few positive tests, it would have been from genuine oversight, a player taking supplements without checking, or a cough mixture.'