Sale prop Pope banned following second failed drugs test
Sale Sharks prop Jake Pope has been banned for six months after failing a drugs test for the second time.
The 21-year-old tested positive for cannabis and cocaine last November, having previously admitting violating the Rugby Football Union's (RFU) Illicit Drugs Programme in 2017.
Pope had been provisionally suspended since December 4 and will now be banned until June 4.
The RFU also hit Pope with a fixed penalty of £1,000.
Premiership club Sale stated on Tuesday: "As soon as Sale Sharks were made aware of Jake's failed tests, the club intervened to ensure Jake had the support pathway he required to address the matter and avoid any further issues arising in the future.
"As a role model to young players across the north west, this behaviour is unacceptable.
"The club does not condone the misuse of drugs from any player and accept the decision made by the RFU, however Sale Sharks prides itself on being able to offer a career pathway into rugby for people of all backgrounds and circumstances and for this reason we feel it is right that, as a young man who has made mistakes, Jake be given a fair chance to redeem himself."
RFU anti-doping and illicit drugs programme manager Stephen Watkins said: "This is the first time we have had a second offence since the policy was established in 2010. It should send a strong deterrent message to all players that the RFU takes the misuse of substances seriously.
"Players have responsibilities as role models in our sport and therefore have an important part to play in protecting its reputation."