Armitage free for now

England flanker Steffon Armitage has had his ban for failing a drugs test temporarily lifted. [more]

Armitage free for now

England flanker Steffon Armitage has had his ban for failing a drugs test temporarily lifted.

The Toulon openside has been cleared to play in the remainder of his team’s pre-season fixtures, but the saga isn’t over yet.

Armitage tested positive for a prohibited painkiller after Toulon’s Top 14 Final defeat to Toulouse on June 9.

The 26-year-old was initially suspended until his appearance in front of a French Federation anti-doping commission on August 21 but he is now free to feature against Bordeaux-Begles and Mont-de-Marsan.

"Temporarily suspended pending a hearing before the anti-doping commission on August 21, the Toulon flanker has had his penalty lifted and is therefore able to play the last two friendly matches with Rugby Club Toulonnais," read a statement on the club’s website.

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"Nevertheless, he will still be called before the commission to fight the case against doping on August 21."

There is little suggestion that Armitage was seeking a performance enhancing advantage as the product he tested positive for can be taken as a therapeutic treatment if accompanied by written medical authorisation.

The former London Irish star failed to provide the necessary medical notes, though, and has therefore had to endure a frustrating week since the result went public.

"It's a bit stressful, especially for my family in England. But I will keep my head held high because I have done nothing wrong," said Armitage at the time.

"I know that everything will soon be sorted, that I will be able to forget about this and come back stronger."

Armitage is currently an outside shot for Lions selection when Britain and Ireland’s elite head to Hong Kong and Australia next summer.

Although he won the last of his international caps back in 2010 and wasn’t selected in England’s EPS squad this season, his performances in his debut campaign with Toulon made plenty of headlines.

Armitage was named the Top 14 Player of the Year and a similar showing this term could see him force his way into Lions reckoning.

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