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Rugby league doping: Former Scotland captain Ollie Wilkes admits to using performance-enhancing drugs | Rugby League News

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Ollie Wilkes follows Jamie Acton to become the second former rugby league player in recent months to admit to using performance-enhancing drugs; the former Scotland captain claims doping took place at a number of the clubs he played for

Last Updated: 15/02/22 8:10pm




Ollie Wilkes has admitted to doping during his 20-year playing career

Former Scotland captain Ollie Wilkes has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Wilkes played for 11 different clubs during a 20-year career and, in an interview with ITV News, revealed that he used growth hormones and peptides during his time playing for Whitehaven and Wigan Warriors.

The 41-year-old also claimed that doping took place at a number of the clubs he played for, although there is no suggestion that the clubs were aware of his actions.


“I used to see people who I was as good as, then all of a sudden come back after a pre-season massive. I’d never say what club, what name. And then just see ’em absolutely tear it up,” Wilkes said.


“They were quite slow at the start of pre-season, just a bit heavy and then shred up a bit. I assume they’d be clean by this point and avoided being caught…

“At one stage I thought to myself: ‘How am I going to compete with that person knowing they’re doing what they’re doing?’

“This was before I tried it myself. You knew that someone was using something and you knew you were as good as them, but they’d be getting picked. But you think to yourself: ‘Is that what I have to do to, to get in the team? Do I have to take something?'”

He added: “I signed for Whitehaven and I was only training two times a week, and they’d offered me alright money and I thought to myself, I was like: ‘Should I have some, see what all the fuss is about?’

“So I tried a performance-enhancing drug, a banned one, and six weeks into the season I got a phone call off Wigan, to sign for Wigan. And, uh, I thought to myself: ‘Well’, I thought: ‘It worked.'”

Wilkes captained Scotland during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup

Wilkes captained Scotland during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup

Wilkes also alleged that some coaches would try to shield their players when drug testers came in.

“On a couple of occasions. I could say that if anybody had been mentioned… drug testers are here,” he said. “If you’re not here now – here is your chance to bob out and there has been a couple of times when guys have nipped out and their names haven’t gone down on the list.”

Wilkes’ revelation comes after another former player, Jamie Acton, was banned from the sport for two years after a stored sample of his was retested and found to contain a growth hormone releasing peptide.

Acton, who retired in 2019, then posted a video on Instagram in which he accused the sport of making great efforts to cover up drug use.

Sky Sports News has contacted Wigan Warriors and Whitehaven for comment.

‘RFL is committed to rugby league being a clean sport’

Meanwhile, a statement from the RFL, the game’s governing body, read: “The RFL is committed to Rugby League being a Clean Sport. The RFL condemns drug use in sport as doping is harmful to the core values of Rugby League. It is damaging to players’ health and wellbeing, the fairness and integrity of the competition and prevents all from the right to participate in a doping free competition.

“The RFL works closely with UK Anti-Doping with all alleged breaches of the Anti-Doping Rules being referred to and investigated by UKAD.

“The RFL has a significant focus on education of players including online and with anti-doping workshops run annually by UKAD trained Educators. In addition, it is compulsory for certain support staff to have completed UKAD’s Clean Sport Advisor Course.

“In conjunction with UKAD, we carry out a number of in and out of competition doping tests. We are also supportive of UKAD’s testing of historical tests and believe this plays an important part in messaging to players on ensuring the sport remains clean.

“We actively encourage anyone who has any concerns regarding doping to report them. The RFL passes any intelligence in relation to any antidoping complaints or concerns, to UKAD. UKAD also has a confidential hotline which allows anyone to report concerns direct to UKAD.”

A UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) spokesperson said: “We take all information regarding possible doping in sport very seriously and encourage anyone with information to search Protect Your Sport and pass that information on to us, in confidence.

“In 2021, as part of its intelligence-led and risk-based testing programme across all sport, UKAD conducted over 600 tests in Rugby Football League (RFL), making it the third most tested sport by UKAD, after Football and Rugby Union.

“UKAD prosecutes athletes who fail and evade tests and removes from sport those who cheat.

“Samples from many athletes are also kept in long-term storage for reanalysis at a later date. UKAD recently successfully prosecuted a former Rugby League player following sample reanalysis.

“In the last five years, UKAD has published decisions confirming 14 bans to Rugby League players.

“It is important to note that testing alone does not make a robust anti-doping programme. We work closely with the RFL to ensure their education programmes make athletes and support staff aware of their responsibilities to clean sport and the risks involved in taking prohibited substances.”





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