Williams fails drugs test

  • Last Updated: July 25 2014, 20:18 BST

The company behind a supplement used by Welsh athletes Rhys Williams and Gareth Warburton has launched an investigation to determine whether the product may have had a part in their failed drugs tests.

Rhys Williams: Suspended after a failed drugs test
Rhys Williams: Suspended after a failed drugs test

European 400 metres hurdles champion Williams, the co-captain of Wales' Commonwealth Games athletics squad, has been provisionally suspended and will miss Glasgow 2014 as a result.

The 30-year-old son of rugby union great JJ Williams became the second Welsh athlete to be forced out of the Games over an alleged doping offence, after 800m runner Warburton was withdrawn nine days previously.

Williams said he was "utterly devastated" by the news of his failed test and insisted, like Warburton, that he had never knowingly doped.

Both athletes have used Mountain Fuel supplements, which its owners say is "nutritionally balanced to ensure your body is fuelled for maximum performance". On its website, Mountain Fuel says no products on banned lists are contained in its supplements, which cost £1.75 per sachet.

Owner Darren Foote, from Brynmawr in south Wales, expressed alarm at news of Williams' positive test but remains confident his product could not have been a factor.

"I'm as shocked as he is, and I know him well," Foote told Press Association Sport.

"We're complying to help him and we've just sent everything off to be tested and looked at in case it could be ours.

"I'm disappointed that people have named us as the investigation hasn't been finished yet.

"We've had athletes tested and they've come back clean. Ashley Brace, the Welsh boxer, has been tested four times and she's been clean four times. Rhys has been tested and he's been fine in the past. Rhys was tested earlier this year and I was speaking to him on the phone - he said: 'By the way it's clear Darren'."

He added: "I'm sure the results will come back clean. I can barely afford the cost of making these products, let alone buying steroids to put in them.

"I expect to hear the results by Wednesday or Thursday of next week and I'll be coming up to Glasgow to tell everyone about it."

Welsh Athletics earlier said it was "concerned" to see a second member of its team charged with committing an anti-doping rule violation.

The body said in a statement: "Rhys has the opportunity to respond to the charges against him and to have those charges determined at a full hearing before the national anti-doping panel.

"Welsh Athletics strongly supports clean sport and has established a comprehensive education programme for its athletes.

"Welsh Athletics is obviously concerned that this is the second anti-doping violation by a senior Welsh international athlete and will be conducting its own internal review."

Foote stressed Welsh Athletics had not spoken to him regarding the positive tests, and said only "around 3,000 sachets" had ever been produced.

He said: "The manufacturer that makes it complies with the anti-doping system. All the ingredients used in products aren't on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

"I have ethics. I believe Rhys Williams didn't take this stuff willingly or knowingly. I know him and he wouldn't do it.

"I'm angry everyone has pointed the finger at us. It's because I'm one of the little guys that people are pointing the finger."

Williams won the European title in Helsinki ahead of London 2012, having claimed silver and bronze at previous European Championships. He failed to gain selection for the Great Britain team for next month's Europeans in Zurich, though.

Williams, who took bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago, said in a statement released through his management company Concept Sports Management, he said: "I am utterly devastated about the news of this anti-doping rule violation, which has come as a great shock to me. From the outset, I would strongly like to state that I have not knowingly taken any banned substance.

"As a professional athlete, I have always supported and have been an advocate of clean sport. However, I recognise that the responsibility for this situation lies with me and I'm committed to working with UK Anti-Doping and will fully co-operate in the legal process."

Welsh athletics chief executive Matt Newman said the news was "a massive blow for athletics in Wales" and "not something we ever envisaged".

He told www.walesonline.co.uk: "The fact there have been two cases in a short space of time means it's not a coincidence.

"But at this stage we just hope we can back up what the athletes suspect is the source of the contamination."

Rhys Williams factfile

1984: Born February 27 in Cardiff, Wales. His father is former Wales rugby union international JJ Williams.

2005: Takes 400 metres hurdles gold at the AAA Under-23 Championships.

2006: Finishes fourth on his Commonwealth Games debut, as well as taking bronze at the European Championships. Finishes fourth in the European Cup 400m hurdles.

2008: Misses the 2008 Olympics after sustaining a stress fracture in his right foot.

2010: Takes silver at the European Championships and wins bronze for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

2012: Completes a full set of European medals with 400m hurdles gold in Helsinki just a few weeks before the Olympic Games, only to fail to qualify from his London 2012 semi-final.

2014: July 25 - Williams is suspended after failing a drugs test, Welsh Athletics announces, ruling him out of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.


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