James Cronin gets one-month ban for ‘unintentional anti-doping violation’

Munster prop James Cronin has been handed a one-month ban for “an unintentional anti-doping violation”.

Cronin tested positive for banned substances prednisolone and prednisone following Munster’s Heineken Champions Cup match against Racing 92 in November last year.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) established that a prescription mix-up, with Cronin dispensed medication by a pharmacy that was meant for another customer, was the root cause of the failed drugs test.

While Cronin was deemed to have no significant fault in the sample, an independent judicial officer felt the 29-year-old should bear some responsibility and he will therefore be ineligible from April 15 to May 16.

However, this seems to be a nominal punishment as the Pro14 was last month indefinitely suspended because of coronavirus.

“These past few months have been very trying for myself and my family and I am glad that this issue has been resolved so that I can focus fully on rugby when it resumes,” Cronin said on the Irish Rugby Football Union’s website.

“I accept that this is a strict liability offence and that even though the medication taken was due to a very serious and unexpected dispensing error, it has taught me a very valuable lesson that I hope my fellow players and any other athletes can also learn from.

“I am confident that my friends, fellow players, the rugby media and rugby public will understand that I never acted with any intent nor in any manner to intentionally compromise the EPCR tournament.”

Munster chief executive Ian Flanagan added: “This has been an extremely challenging time for James and the province, and we are glad it has reached its conclusion.

“We have treated this matter with the utmost seriousness, and as always Munster Rugby and Irish Rugby are fully supportive of all Sporting Ireland, WADA and World Rugby anti-doping policies.

“In protecting the integrity of our player, the organisation, and the sport, I can assure you that this unintentional anti-doping rule violation is as a result of exceptional circumstances due to a third-party dispensing error by a pharmacy.

“Clearly the sanction is reflective of the strong mitigating factors in this case, and we look forward to James’ return to action.”