Former Wigan prop Gabe Hamlin has been given a two-year ban after testing positive for cocaine he claims was passed on by a kiss.
The 23-year-old former South Sydney forward was suspended by the Rugby Football League last April after being charged with a UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) violation and subsequently returned to his native Australia to be with his family.
Hamlin, who was tested after Wigan’s opening home game of the 2019 season against Leeds, told a UKAD hearing that he did not take the banned substance and claimed it must have found a way into his system from kissing a woman he met on an online dating site.
A statement on the UKAD website read: “Mr Hamlin asserts that on the evening of 7 February 2019 (the night before sample collection) he was at his home with a woman he had met through an online dating application.
“Mr Hamlin indicates that he and the woman kissed during the course of the evening from around 10:30pm.
“Mr Hamlin maintains he did not consume cocaine or see the woman consuming it; he suggests that she appeared ‘very chatty and visited the bathroom several times’ and that he discovered white powder in his bathroom the following morning (though he did not presume this to be cocaine at that time).”
UKAD sought an opinion from Professor Kim Wolff, head of the Drug Control Centre at King’s College London, who said the account “does not stand up to scrutiny”.
Richard Gasquet, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2007 and 2015, successfully had a 12-month ban overturned in 2009 after he claimed cocaine was only in his system because he kissed a woman who had taken the substance at a nightclub.
Pat Myhill, UKAD director of operations, said: “Cocaine is a dangerous drug with significant health risks, which has no place in sport.
“This case is another example of a metabolite of cocaine resulting in an athlete receiving a ban from sport.
“We realise that the length of sanctions for this substance can vary between cases, this is because of the specific sanctions laid out in the Anti-Doping Rules.
“The independent expert witness in this case ruled out the possibility that ingestion took place during the in-competition period. This means that a possible four-year ban was reduced to two years.
“Athletes are solely responsible for what is in their system, regardless of how they claim it got there and whether there was an intention to cheat or not. It is quite simply not worth the risk.”
Hamlin’s ban will end on February 7, 2021. His contract with Wigan ran out at the end of last season and the club issued a statement revealing they sacked him last summer.
The statement said: “Wigan Warriors have been constrained legally from commenting until the conclusion of the investigation by WADA but can now confirm that the club dismissed Gabe Hamlin on the 19th of July 2019 without notice on his admission of an anti-doping rule violation.
“We wish Gabe well and have offered him rehabilitation assistance once his ban has been served.”