Richie Burnett given 18-month ban after positive cocaine test

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Richie Burnett
Burnett has played on the PDC circuit for more than a decade

Former world darts champion Richie Burnett has been banned for 18 months after testing positive for cocaine.

Welshman Burnett, 48, won the British Darts Organisation (BDO) title in 1995 but was removed from the 2015 PDC World Championship for "personal reasons".

It can now be revealed Burnett failed a drugs test and had an appeal against an 18-month ban, which runs from 3 November 2014 to 2 May 2016, dismissed.

He tested positive for cocaine at a PDC Grand Slam qualifier in Wigan.

Burnett, from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, won the BDO World Masters in 1994 before claiming the world title the following year.

He has played on the PDC circuit for more than a decade and tested positive for the presence of benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, following an in-competition test at Robin Parks Sports Centre in Wigan.

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) said Burnett was suspended from all sports for 18 months, and an appeal against the ban had been rejected.

Burnett would normally have received a two-year suspension, but this was reduced because of mitigating circumstances he offered to the anti-doping tribunal.

Burnett's appeal against ban
June 2015: Burnett was told of ban. September 2015: Appeal heard, and later dismissed
Burnett said he was grateful the suspension had been reduced to 18 months, but argued the ban was effectively two years and two months because he would miss PDC qualifying in January, and be unable to compete and earn money until January 2017.

"All athletes adhere to the principle of strict liability. No matter what the circumstances, they are solely responsible for any prohibited substance found in their system," said Ukad legal director Graham Arthur.

"This can be challenging for athletes, as the onus falls to them to prove how, and why, their sample tested positive, and to show there was no significant fault."

At his appeal, Burnett cited the recent case of Hull City footballer Jake Livermore, who was not banned by the Football Association after testing positive for cocaine following the death of his newborn child.

The exact details of mitigating circumstances in the darts player's case have not been made public, but the appeal panel ruled there were "clear differences" with Livermore's situation.

Burnett won supportfrom former world champion Keith Deller
The 1983 world BDO champion Keith Deller offered his support on Twitter

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