Featherstone and South Wales Scorpions players get doping bans

Research lab
UKAD head of science and medicine Nick Wojek said that steroid abuse was a growing concern in rugby

Featherstone's Shaun Pick and South Wales' Ashley Bateman have been banned for two years for doping offences.

Pick, 21, and Bateman, 25, were caught with anabolic steroids in their systems during out-of-competition tests.

Both players have been suspended from all sport until December 2016.

"The players perhaps thought they had a better chance of getting away with it as it was pre-season," UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) head of science and medicine Nick Wojek told BBC Sport.

"The benefits for rugby players, in both codes, are clear with these kinds of substances. They also allow for a quicker recovery from training sessions or from injuries.

Wojek says that UKAD are taking greater steps to deter players from rugby league and union from taking banned substances.

Last week Neath back-row Lee Evans was banned for two years after he was found to have taken the anabolic steroid drostanolone - although UKAD director Graham Arthur said there was some evidence to support Evans's claim that he had not knowingly taken the banned substance.

"The rewards are potentially very big for players outside the top level attempting to obtain lucrative contracts and there is also an image issue to contend with," Wojek added.

"We are implementing a visible testing program and working with governing bodies to ensure that education strategies are in place within clubs.

"We're also looking to educate players in academies and at school level on the morals of taking banned substances."

Wales international three-quarter Bateman is the club's longest-serving player and signed a contract extension at the third tier side in October 2014.

Scorpions chairman Ian Curzon said: "It is hoped that he will return from this ban both a better person and a better player."

Featherstone forward Pick was a member of the Rovers team that lost 36-12 against Leigh Centurions in the 2014 Championship Grand Final but he has not played this season.

A statement issued by the West Yorkshire club said: "Featherstone Rovers are fully committed to the sport's anti-doping policy and players are educated by the club and governing body as to the penalties they could incur should a positive test be recorded."

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