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Munster prop banned for doping violation

LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 21 – Munster prop James Cronin has been banned for one month by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) for an “unintentional anti-doping violation”.

The Ireland international tested positive for the banned substances prednisolone and prednisone without a medical exemption after Munster’s Champions Cup match against Racing 92 at Thomond Park on November 23.

The EPCR established that Cronin’s positive test was due to a mix-up in prescriptions, which resulted in him being dispensed with another pharmacy customer’s medication after he felt unwell and visited the doctor ahead of the game.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) issued a statement on their official website which said: “Following on from the EPCR disciplinary decision in relation to James Cronin, the IRFU can confirm they have completed their own review of the matter, in line with existing procedures for all contracted players.

“The findings conclude that the sanction imposed by EPCR is sufficient in this case due to the strong mitigating circumstances.”

Speaking about the news, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said: “This has been an extremely challenging time for James and the province, and we are glad it has reached its conclusion. We have treated this matter with the utmost seriousness, and as always Munster Rugby and Irish Rugby are fully supportive of all Sporting Ireland, WADA and World Rugby anti-doping policies.

“In protecting the integrity of our player, the organisation, and the sport, I can assure you that this unintentional anti-doping rule violation is as a result of exceptional circumstances due to a third-party dispensing error by a pharmacy. Clearly the sanction is reflective of the strong mitigating factors in this case, and we look forward to James’ return to action.”

Cronin accepted the sanction and said he is happy that the matter has been sorted out.

“These past few months have been very trying for me and my family and I am glad that this issue has been resolved so that I can focus fully on rugby when it resumes,” he said.

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I accept that this is a strict liability offence and that even though the medication taken was due to a very serious and unexpected dispensing error, it has taught me a very valuable lesson that I hope my fellow players and other athletes can also learn from.

I am confident that my friends, fellow players, the rugby media and rugby public will understand that I never acted with any intent nor in any manner to intentionally compromise EPCR tournament rules.

I have volunteered to participate in an educational forum to help raise awareness with other rugby union players so as to ensure that my experiences can be avoided by other athletes.

I wish to thank my solicitor Diane Hallahan and Barrister Meg Burke B.L. and to acknowledge the support of Rugby Players Ireland.”

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