Gleeson and ex-Hull CEO banned

James Gordon

Former Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson has been banned from rugby league, alongside former Hull chief executive James Rule and conditioner Ben Cooper.

Gleeson, 31, played his last game for the Airlie Birds against Harlequins on June 12, but the club then claimed he had been granted leave because of stress, when he had tested positive for a banned substance.

Former Chief Executive James Rule and conditioning coach Ben Cooper were charged with conspiring with player Martin Gleeson to cover up the circumstances which led to Mr Gleeson testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Mr Gleeson was charged by UK Anti-Doping in June 2011 with committing an anti-doping rule violation after he tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine on 13 May 2011. He was banned for two years by the National Anti-Doping Panel (following a hearing on 9 June 2011), and later admitted lying to the National Anti-Doping Panel about the circumstances that led to him testing positive. Mr Cooper and Mr Rule were charged with being complicit in these lies, in violation of Rule 2.5 of the RFL’s Anti-Doping Rules.

Mr Gleeson agreed to a three-year ban being imposed by the National Anti-Doping Panel, with half that ban suspended in recognition of his providing assistance to UK Anti-Doping. Mr Cooper agreed to a two-year ban, with half also suspended.  Mr Rule did not contest the charge made against him by UK Anti-Doping, and has been banned for two years by the National Anti-Doping Panel.

UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive Andy Parkinson said:  “This case marks two firsts for the anti-doping community. It is the first time that tampering with the doping control process in this manner has resulted in a violation, and the first time that members of an athlete’s entourage have been convicted of anti-doping rule violations in the UK.

“In a hearing before the National Anti-Doping Panel, athletes and their entourage are obliged to tell the truth, or the system will fail, and this case makes clear the penalties for not doing so.

“Once again, this highlights to the sporting community that UK Anti-Doping will aggressively pursue all types of anti-doping rule violation. While all eyes are on the London Games this year, we continue to work on behalf of clean athletes in every sport.

“I would like to thank the RFL for their support and assistance throughout this process which has reinforced Rugby League’s ongoing commitment to tackling the issue of doping in sport.”

Due to legal constraints, details of the investigation and subsequent actions could not be made public until today.

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood added: “Such behaviour is unacceptable and this case has brought the sport of Rugby League into disrepute. We must applaud UK Anti-Doping for the hours of work they have put in to conduct a detailed and extensive investigation.

“We have assisted UK Anti-Doping throughout their investigation and these results show that doping of any kind will not be tolerated in our sport.”

The sanctions apply to Martin Gleeson from 13 June 2011 to 12 November 2012, Ben Cooper from 9 June 2011 to 8 June 2012 and James Rule from 9 June 2011 to 8 June 2013.

Gleeson joined Hull in April 2011 after leaving Wigan, signing an 18-month contract.

He has played more than 280 games in Super League in 13 seasons for Huddersfield, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Hull.