World Rugby has underscored its commitment to the promotion of drug-free Rugby with the appointment of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to deliver the Rugby World Cup 2015 anti-doping testing programme.
The globally-renowned anti-doping organisation will be responsible for the execution of an unprecedented sample collection and analysis programme that will operate across the 20 participating teams over the 44-day tournament.
The programme builds on the targeted testing programme that has operated across all teams since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011.
A World Anti-Doping Code signatory, UKAD will work in partnership with World Rugby to supply qualified and experienced Doping Control Officers who will be responsible for collecting blood and urine samples throughout England 2015.
All samples collected will be sent for analysis at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory at King’s College in London.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Doping is one of the biggest threats to the integrity of sport and World Rugby is committed to a zero-tolerance policy towards drug cheats in Rugby. The appointment of a globally renowned anti-doping organisation to deliver the Rugby World Cup 2015 programme underscores this stance."
"UKAD and World Rugby share the same values of integrity, discipline and respect and in addition to an ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach to testing, we will also be using Rugby World Cup 2015 as global educational platform of the importance of maintaining an even playing field through our Keep Rugby Clean day on September 26. We are looking forward to working with UKAD on what will be a critical area of the Rugby World Cup 2015 tournament delivery."
Details of the Rugby World Cup 2015 testing programme will be announced in the coming weeks and for UKAD, the appointment represents an opportunity to build on a similar service expertly delivered for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and other major sporting events, and deliver a key player welfare programme for the largest sporting event of 2015.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: "UKAD is one of the leading anti-doping agencies in the world and I am pleased that they have been appointed to deliver the testing programme for next month's Rugby World Cup. I am also encouraged that World Rugby and UKAD will also use the tournament to highlight the importance of maintaining the integrity of sport and I urge rugby players and fans to get behind 'Keep Rugby Clean' day on September 26."
UKAD Chief Executive Nicole Sapstead said: "We are delighted to be appointed by World Rugby to play an integral part in one of the biggest sporting events in the UK this year. We look forward to working with World Rugby, Rugby World Cup Limited, England Rugby 2015 and the teams themselves to successfully deliver a robust testing programme.
"UKAD played a pivotal role in both London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, and we will use, and build on, that experience as we plan and deliver a player focussed anti-doping testing programme for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
"UKAD’s primary goal is to protect clean sport and give sports fans, and all those involved in the event, the confidence that the performances they see on the pitch are solely achieved through hard work, skill, determination and dedication."
Commended by WADA for its educational programmes, World Rugby is a firm believer in an education-deterrent approach as part of its overall Anti-Doping programme and every player, coach and medic at Rugby World Cup 2015 will have undertaken mandatory education in addition to that provided by Unions, Players’ Associations and Clubs to hammer-home key points.
Lapasset added: "The fight against doping begins with education and last year we provided face-to-face interactive education to 3,400 elite players, while more than 3,600 completed online training, taking the total of educated players to more than 13,000 since the last Rugby World Cup."
World Rugby anti-doping rule violations are down year on year globally within the World Rugby testing programme, demonstrating the importance of education.
In 2014 more anti-doping tests (2,021 tests) were carried out by World Rugby last year than at any other point since testing began, underlining the federation’s commitment to maintaining a level playing field in the game.
Details of the unprecedented Rugby World Cup 2015 Testing Programme will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on World Rugby’s testing programme and educational resources visit the Keep Rugby Clean website.