James Duerden, just 27 years old, was thought to be one of the most important and influential free-agent signings in the Rugby Football League – a move made by the Barrow Raiders in an effort to further improve their odds of competing for a championship and dominating in one of the most competitive Rugby leagues on the planet.
Unfortunately for Duerden (and the Barrow Raiders) it looks like this young athlete isn’t going to have an opportunity to suit up for the club for the next four years after popping positive for two different prohibited anabolic steroids.
According to information released by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD), the suspension handed down to Duerden is active as of January 15, 2019. Their report states that an out of competition urine sample collected during the Rugby off-season in December 2017 came back as testing positive for two different anabolic steroids, steroids known as Masteron and Deca Durabolin.
Initially, these tests were analyzed and investigated by the WADA accredited laboratory known as the Drug Control Center at Kings College in London. These tests came back positive, but the positive samples that were found included only tiny trace amounts of anabolic steroids, which led the organization to send the samples over to another WADA accredited laboratory located in Rome, Italy. These trace steroidal elements were 2?-methyl-5?-androstan-3?-?l-17-one (a metabolite of drostanolone better known as Masteron) and 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of nandrolone better known as Deca-Durabolin.
The laboratory in Rome specializes in determining whether or not nandrolone substances have been produced by the human body or have been introduced into the body from external sources, and they have a fantastic track record at determining this kind of information even with just the smallest amounts of trace evidence.
After rigorous testing and a battery of different performance-enhancing drug protocols being conducted on the samples it was discovered that Duerden had in fact been injecting himself with two different anabolic steroids (the ones that we mentioned above) and the athlete was immediately handed down a provisional suspension until the reports could be finalized.
A high ranking executive officer at the UK Anti-Doping Agency came forward almost immediately after the provisional suspension was handed down and conducted a press conference where they talked about the “hugely damaging effect” anabolic steroids has and why the UK Anti-Doping agency was working so hard to clean up sports and discourage young athletes (particularly amateur athletes) from ever deciding to go down this path.
Nicole Sapstead, the executive officer in question, went on to talk about how the anabolic steroids that Duerden had been accused of using were both substances not only banned by the UK Anti-Doping Agency but also by the WADA, the IOC, and almost all other serious rugby leagues around the world.
She went on to talk about how dangerous these substances are, how damaging they are to the human body, and how they can cause long-term heart, liver, and kidney problems.
For his part, Duerden has yet to decide whether or not he is going to move forward with an appeal of his four-year suspension or instead sit this out, serve the suspension, and hope to come back and enter competition on December 13 of 2021.
One has to imagine that any athlete forced to sit out from regular competition for four years is going to come back a little bit rusty, and when you are talking about an athlete missing out on four years of their prime athleticism they certainly face an uncertain career future.
No one would be surprised if Duerden decided to appeal the suspension vigorously, looking for an injunction that would allow him to continue to compete while his appeal process goes through.