Rugby League player Ben Harrison receives four-year ban from sport

Former international Rugby League player Ben Harrison has been banned from all sport for four years following a first Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) after the detection of a banned substance in his urine Sample.

On 28 April 2021, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) collected Out-of-Competition blood and urine Samples from Mr Harrison at a Barrow Raiders’ training session. Analysis of Mr Harrison’s urine Sample returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for drostanolone.

Drostanolone is an anabolic androgenic steroid. The drug is banned at all times under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

On 11 June 2021 UKAD notified Mr Harrison that he may have committed ADRVs pursuant to Article 2.1 (Presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in an Athlete’s Sample) and Article 2.2 (Use of Attempted Use by an Athlete of a Prohibited Substance) of the 2021 UK Anti-Doping Rules (ADR), and provisionally suspended him from all sport.

On 3 July 2021, Mr Harrison, via his then legal representatives, admitted to the ADRVs but requested that his case be referred to the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) so that he could make submissions on sanction. Mr Harrison was charged with the above ADRVs by UKAD on 20 July 2021. In reply, on 30 July 2021, his then legal representatives asserted the substance had been ingested by Mr Harrison when retired from all forms of rugby. Mr Harrison came out of retirement to return to the sport of rugby league from 10 September 2020.

UKAD obtained the opinion of a scientific expert. That expert concluded that Mr Harrison most likely administered drostanolone after 10 September 2020, at a time when Mr Harrison had returned to playing rugby league with Barrow Raiders.

The charges against Mr Harrison were considered by the NADP and the NADP issued its written Decision in the matter on 6 September 2022. The Decision recorded that Mr Harrison had violated ADR Articles 2.1 and 2.2. and imposed a four-year ban.

Mr Harrison’s four-year period of ineligibility is deemed to have commenced on 11 June 2021 (the date of his provisional suspension) and will expire at midnight on 10 June 2025.

Speaking on the case, UKAD Chief Executive, Jane Rumble said: “Drostanolone is an anabolic steroid, prohibited at all times, and has no place within sport. Steroids can cause serious mental and physical health problems, are open to abuse and addiction, and can impact on an athletes’ career and reputation.  

“This case illustrates that athletes returning from retirement can and will be tested and be liable for the consequences under the Anti-Doping Rules.”