Two professional rugby players, Dean Ashfield and Mike Lowis, have both tested positive for a number of different anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Clevedon Rugby Football Club.
Both of these athletes have been handed down a four-year suspension by the Rugby Football Union, and will not be eligible to play at the professional level in Europe or around the world during this suspension.
Urine samples were collected from all athletes competing in the Somerset Cup championship game on March 15 of 2018, and these two teammates were found to have been using an “anabolic steroids stack” that was immediately detected by anti-doping protocols.
Ashfield and Lowis denied using the steroids, a stack or combination of both Trenbolone and Masteron, with Ashfield also been found to have tested positive for clenbuterol as well. Ashfield is taking the defense route of blaming a sports therapist that he will not name for injecting him with these banned substances, claiming that he never would have even considered using performance-enhancing drugs on his own.
Ashfield went on to say that he had been trying to recover from a recent reconstructive knee surgery while also dealing with significant and chronic back pain. He visited a sports therapist (again that he will not name) to receive treatment for these ailments, and reports being injected with a mixture of “vitamins” that would help him on his road to recovery.
Ashfield also stated that he was receiving cortisone injections that he believed were being administered to help negate the pain he was in, though he later stated that he never asked this sports therapist exactly what was being injected into his body.
Of the two men that have been handed down this four year suspension, Ashfield is certainly the most vocal when it comes to defending himself and his reputation.
Ashfield says that he never discussed the contents of the injection that he received, that it never crossed his mind to do so, and that he had absolutely zero idea of what the chemical composition of the substances were. He goes on to say that he trusted his sports therapist and had zero reason to believe that the injections he was receiving were going to be anything but pain management and vitamin solutions.
Ashfield says the sports therapist told him that this chemical concoctions would alleviate all of the pain that he was contending with, and admits that the pain he was in from his knee surgery and is back were strong enough for him to move forward with this injection without doing enough due diligence or research.
Lowis has made no real attempt to come up with an excuse for why he tested positive for Trenbolones and Masteron, and instead has chosen to silently soldier with his four-year suspension.
The Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs manager for the Rugby Football Union, a Mr. Stephen Watkins, has been vocal about his skepticism for the story that Ashfield is trying to paint. A big part of this skepticism has been the inability and unwillingness for Ashfield to name the sports therapist that he received his injection from, only going so far as to say that the therapist was “a guy from a gym I know a few people visit”.
Ashfield also has been unable to remember when the injection was specifically administered. He never reported the injection to his primary physician or any of the physicians employed by his Rugby team.
Neither Ashfield or Lowis will be able to play rugby at the professional level until April 9 of 2021.