Af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for co­caine

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

test for co­caine in Fe­bru­ary. Ear­lier this month, James re­turned a sec­ond pos­i­tive test. A sec­ond vi­o­la­tion at­tracts a manda­tory pe­riod of in­el­i­gi­bil­ity and is re­ferred to a drugs tri­bunal for con­sid­er­a­tion.

‘‘We are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed to be in this po­si­tion with one of our most se­nior in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

‘‘We are fully aware that James is deal­ing with very sig­nif­i­cant per­sonal is­sues and we have been work­ing with him since Fe­bru­ary on these mat­ters. We are en­sur­ing that James is re­ceiv­ing full help and sup­port, in­clud­ing spe­cial­ist med­i­cal treat­ment.’’

Slip­per tweeted out a state­ment shortly af­ter, say­ing he had been suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion and was re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal help for his ill­ness.

"In no way do my per­sonal cir­cum­stances ex­cuse my ac­tions, but I recog­nise now that I was not cop­ing and that I need to prop­erly ad­dress these well­ness is­sues,’’ Slip­per wrote.

‘‘I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for my ac­tions and apol­o­gise un­re­servedly to my fam­ily, the QRU, Rugby Aus­tralia, my team­mates, coaches, and all rugby sup­port­ers. There is no place for il­licit drugs in sport.’’

The news will rock Aus­tralian rugby, which is reel­ing from a string of off-field con­tro­ver­sies.

Rugby Union Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion boss Ross Xenos said Slip­per’s wel­fare was para­mount and that he had been bat­tling ‘‘demons’’ over the last few months.

‘‘He’s got to take some time away and look af­ter him­self and make sure he gets him­self right,’’ Xenos said. ‘‘Speak­ing with James quite a lot over the course of the last week, his first ex­pres­sion and first emo­tion when he found out about the sit­u­a­tion was re­lief. That’s an in­di­ca­tion of some of the demons that he has been bat­tling over the course of the last lit­tle while.’’

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