World Rugby Announces 2018 Anti-Doping Program Outcomes

World Rugby Announces 2018 Anti-Doping Program Outcomes

  • World Rugby announces 2018 global testing and education program results
  • Continued focus on intelligent, risk-based testing with two-thirds of tests conducted out of competition
  • Values-based education continues to be a key deterrent in global fight against doping
  • Rugby World Cup 2019 testing programme well underway
  • Rugby World Cup 2019 to showcase education and game-wide anti-doping stance

World Rugby has published details of its 2018 anti-doping program as the international federation continues to prioritise values-based education and intelligent, risk-based testing.

The program, overseen by its expert Anti-Doping Advisory Committee, saw World Rugby further its commitment to utilizing all available tools for effective testing and analysis, while focusing on understanding rugby doping motivations and pitfalls and mitigating risk via innovative and effective influencer education and values promotion.


The 2018 testing program comprised 2,236 tests at men’s and women’s sevens and 15s international representative level, and is run in partnership with unions, national and regional anti-doping organizations, with 66 per cent conducted out of competition in line with the international federation’s intelligence and risk-based approach in elite rugby.

An additional 259 samples were collected to supplement World Rugby’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) program. Haematological and steroidal biological profiling continue to be mainstays of the scientific program, along with a risk-focused sample storage and re-analysis program which develops year-on year to maintain strong deterrence and the long-term capacity for the detection of historical doping.

There were four anti-doping rule violations within the elite sevens and 15s environment during the year. One player was sanctioned for four years for Drostanalone and another four-year sanction was handed-down for Metandienone and Stanozolol. Two further cases are pending.

World Rugby’s program is in addition to the extensive programs operated in rugby by regional and national anti-doping organizations and run in support of national unions, and competitions. The complete 2018 program figures will be published by the World Anti-Doping Agency later this year.


2018 was again a pivotal year for anti-doping globally and with record numbers of young people taking-up the sport globally, World Rugby focused on influencer and advocate-based digital media education within its wide-ranging Keep Rugby Clean values-based education program.

Keep Rugby Clean education was delivered to 1500 players at World Rugby events, while a further 3318 players and support staff completed the mandatory e-learning modules. World Rugby also commenced the training of specialist union anti-doping educators in its regions as part of its preparation to support the implementation of WADA’s new International Standard for Education.

During 2019, World Rugby will be harnessing the power of Rugby World Cup 2019 as a major vehicle for awareness, education and engagement on key anti-doping matters (outlined here).


Continuing World Rugby’s commitment to the voice of the players, former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip was appointed as a member of the anti-doping advisory committee, joining former Argentina captain Dr Felipe Contepomi as a player representative. Contepomi was a member of the WADA athlete committee for six years and is a long-serving member of the anti-doping advisory committee, having previously been a Keep Rugby Clean ambassador in his playing days.


While testing on Rugby World Cup teams is a constant over the four-year tournament cycle, preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 and the commencement of planning for the tournament event and pre-event program started in earnest in 2018. World Rugby will partner with the Japanese Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) to deliver test services at the event and will coordinate its targeted testing program with National Anti-Doping Organisations during the important pre-event period.

World Rugby Anti-Doping Advisory Committee Chairman John O’Driscoll said: “As a sport, we must always be alive to the threat of doping and we remain committed to protecting clean athletes and maintaining a level playing field through intelligent testing and innovative values-based education.”

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Author: World Rugby.