England’s Matt Stevens will not be a Lion in 2009 after he was suspended for two years for failing a drugs test.
The 26-year-old Bath prop, who toured with the Lions four years ago and had been a front runner for the summer tour of the country of his birth, has been banned from all rugby-related activities until January 18, 2011.
Stevens pleaded guilty to the charge against him at a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing in Glasgow and stated that he will not be appealing the ban, which prevents him from team training as well as playing.
“Today’s hearing concluded that Matt Stevens is to be banned from all competitive rugby for two years, following a positive drug test,” said a statement made on behalf of Stevens.
“Matt has pleaded guilty and chosen not to appeal the decision and accepts full responsibility for his actions.
“He would like to again apologise to everyone that has been involved in his career at Bath and England, his team-mates and rugby fans for letting them down.
“He would also like to thank all those who have supported him through this time and intends to return to the game a better person and rugby player.”
Stevens’ national coach, former Lions skipper Martin Johnson, said that England Rugby will do what they can do help their player but he admitted that Stevens will have to face the consequences of his actions.
"Matt has admitted that he has a problem and is seeking help,” explained Johnson.
"We support him in that but all rugby players must understand that they are responsible for their actions, and that includes lifestyle choices.
"I have said all through this episode that there is no place in sport or society for illegal drug use.
"Matt chose to take a banned substance and will now have to accept the consequences. He will not be involved in rugby for two years and for a professional sportsman that will be a very tough experience. "