Maltese Rugby player tests positive to doping test – Details revealed

Saturday, August 21, 2010, 11:53

by Sandro Micallef.

Roderick Attard who last season featured for Kavallieri in the MRFU Cisk Lager 1st Division League has been handed a two year doping ban, this site has learnt.

Roderick Attard presented with his jersey when he was presented as one of the new signings by the Club

Roderick Attard presented with his jersey when he was presented as one of the new signings by the Club

The player who also formed part of Damien Neil’s Malta National team in the past, has tested positive a few days after he joined English Rugby team Gaetshead Thunder who play in Championship 1. The player has been found guilty of breaching the Rugby Football League anti-doping regulations. The player’s suspension commenced on 2nd March 2010 and will run till 2nd March 2012. He was the very first Maltese player to have been offered a contract to play in a professional Rugby League.

Sportinmalta spoke to some local Rugby fans and these remarked that the player is passing from a very difficult period. Roderick Attard who is a teacher by profession might be questioned by the Ministry of Education to give his formal declaration and justify his innocence

This website can reveal that the Malta international player was recently receiving treatment for his shoulder after undergoing surgery following a serious injury, and it is not being excluded that he failed this dope test due to some medication related to his injury. It has been confirmed that the player did not fill in any medical forms at Gateshead.

This international ban from WADA will prevent Roderick from participating as a rower in the Traditional Regatta races as he has done in recent years as a hobby.

It is reported that this issue follows a positive test for steroids in January 2010 whilst Attard was registered as a Gateshead Thunder player. The anti-doping panel heard and accepted evidence that both sports medicine and rugby league facilities are not as advanced in Malta as they are in the UK. The panel also accepted that there is limited anti-doping education in Malta and that the player had taken the substance to recover from shoulder surgery. Roderick Attard’s recovery was slow and it was affecting his ability to carry out his full time employment. The substance was taken before he was invited to Thunder’s trials in November 2009.

However, the anti doping rules are very strict and the mere presence of the substance in the players system is sufficient to constitute a doping violation.

Thunder Club Chairman, Rod Findlay, commented: “Gateshead Thunder do not condone doping and the club offer extensive anti doping education to all players. Unfortunately, Rod was tested only 2 days into his stay with the club and before he received any education. He did not realise that he could have applied for a Therapeutic Use Exemption which would have avoided the charge and unfortunately there is no room in the rules for a retrospective application.”

“I do not believe for a moment that Rod took steroids to gain a sporting advantage and his only game for the club was a friendly against Castleford Tigers. The rules are drafted to catch deliberate cheats and unfortunately they sometimes also catch players such as Rod who have a good explanation for their actions. Rod was only with the club for a short time but he was a popular character and we wish him all the best back home in Malta.” conclude the Club’s Chairman.


  1. Jean says:

    The regatta is tainted with hormone use/ abuse. I know a few ppl who mystreriously and suddenly went from skinny to huge in just a year. Come on guys, anyone who is a real athlete will know that no matter how hard you try, there is a limit to how much a man can increase his strength over a given period of time.
    I still have respect for steriod users , they still workout hard and have to eat well , but a seperate division should be created or else steroid/hormone used has to be ohnestly abolished.



  2. Nick Gatt (former MRFU PRO) says:

    I would like to clarify a few points from the article above. As far as i’m aware Roderick Attard was never called up to the national squad by Rugby Union coach Damian Neill. As for your comment Mario, the Malta Rugby Football Union has already commented on the issue. In the world of Rugby you have 2 codes of the game, Rugby Union and Rugby League and they are both sports independent from each other with seperate Union and League associations in all countries and seperate international federations. In Malta you have the Malta Rugby Football Union (MRFU) and Malta Rugby League (MRL). Roderick Attard was signed up to a professional “Rugby League” club, Gateshead Thunder and that is were he was tested positive. Roderick has also featured for the Malta Rugby League National Team but not the Rugby Union National Team. He was involved with both codes of the game, at club level. Of course Roderick’s ban will probably affect all his sporting activity, including that with his Rugby Union club Kavallieri and his participation in the national Regatta. It is the MRL that should release a statement and not the MRFU. As for Gail, she has nothing to do with the issue as she no longer forms part of the MRFU council.


  3. mario says:

    fejn hi l-mrfu biex tohrog stqarrija ? come on gail wake up


    Gail Debono Reply:

    Dear Mario, please read the story carefully before you implicate the Malta Rugby Football Union. Gateshead Thunder is a rugby league team and not a rugby union team. For your information and the interest of everybody else who doesn’t know, rugby union and rugby league are different sports entirely, with different rules and therefore different governing bodies. Gateshead Thunder, being a rugby league team falls under the patronage of the rugby league association and not the MRFU.

    Also, I should inform you that I am not the MRFU PRO and therefore you summoned the wrong person.

    I hope that clarifies the matter for you dear marto.



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