'Bloodgate' doctor 'ashamed' of cutting player's lip

Image caption,
Dr Chapman said she was under great pressure

A doctor has said she is "very ashamed" of cutting the lip of Harlequins rugby player Tom Williams to help him pretend he was injured during a match.

A General Medical Council (GMC) panel heard Williams asked Dr Wendy Chapman to cut him after he bit into a fake blood capsule to come off the pitch.

The "Bloodgate" incident allowed a goal-kicker to be brought on in the Heineken Cup tie with Leinster.

Dr Chapman told the hearing there was "no justification" for her actions.

Harlequins were losing 6-5 in the quarter-final clash at the Stoop, Twickenham, when Williams bit the fake blood capsule.

The deceit engineered a "blood replacement", which allowed a substituted specialist kicker back on to the field in the closing minutes of the tie in April 2009.

Dr Chapman described the moment she realised she had been "duped".

"I was horrified, just horrified. This is a very huge game and they cheated," she said.

"I was very ashamed that I gave in to the pressure."

She said she was so embarrassed about what she had done that she felt she could not confide in anybody.

The hearing also heard she had since been treated for depression.

'Just desperate'

Questioned by GMC counsel Michael Hayton about what happened in the changing room where she was treating the player, Dr Chapman said it was the most stressful event she had ever encountered despite working many years in accident and emergency.

Asked if she had realised the "enormity" of what she had done, she said: "Not the consequences for me. The fact that they they cheated was high in my mind.

"I just could not believe it."

On Monday, she admitted she falsely stated at a European Rugby Cup (ERC) hearing last July that Williams's injury was real and that she had not cut his lip.

She said the hearing "spiralled into a complete nightmare" as the other parties involved in the case - the club, Williams, director of rugby Dean Richards and physiotherapist Steph Brennan - all stuck to the original story that the "injury" was genuine.

Image caption,
Williams was initially banned from rugby for a year

Dr Chapman said: "I was just desperate. To be the one person to stand up and say: 'It was not'... I did not know what to do."

She was cleared of any wrongdoing by the ERC.

The doctor has admitted almost all the charges brought by the GMC, which says her conduct on the match-day, and at the subsequent ERC hearing, was likely to bring the profession into disrepute and was dishonest.

The only matter that Dr Chapman contests is the allegation that she told match officials that Williams had a loose tooth in order to deceive them.

Dr Chapman, an accident and emergency consultant, was suspended on no pay from Maidstone Hospital in Kent following the incident.

She cannot work until the outcome of the fitness to practise hearing in Manchester, where she could be struck off. The case, which opened on Monday, is expected to last for two weeks.

Richards was banned for three years by the ERC and the club was fined £259,000.

It emerged he had ordered fake blood injuries on four other occasions and orchestrated the "Bloodgate" cover-up.

Williams was initially barred from the game for 12 months, a ban reduced to four months after he admitted using the capsule.

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