English rugby icon Sir Clive Woodward has called for a massive drug testing boost saying the sport is in danger of being undermined unless there is comprehensive action.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed what is described as "worryingly inadequate" drug testing in the English premiership. Practices were so sloppy that one club had to empty office furniture from their doping control room when testers arrived for a game.

UK Anti-Doping tested just 16 players in-competition during the 132-game season, in the year up to May 31, with the remaining 208 being conducted out of competition. An anti-doping expert, while not alarmed, was "surprised by the imbalance".

Sir Clive, the World Cup winner who is a regular Mail columnist, said "testing needs to be much more widespread and year round".


"A top cyclist will be tested between 40 and 60 times a year — more if you are a serial winner or wearer of the leader's jersey — while athletes and rowers won't be far behind...(rugby) must be prepared for its players to undergo that intense degree of scrutiny.

"If you look at rugby objectively, the sport needs strength, speed and endurance from its athletes, and that certainly fits the profile of those who might be tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs.

"Drug testing on the scale required would not be a cheap exercise and World Rugby, the world governing body, must take a lead.

"They must insist that richer unions allocate a substantial percentage of their turnover to finance a comprehensive independent testing programme, especially in the top-tier countries, including — and arguably most importantly — within schools.

"Along with betting, doping has the ability to totally undermine rugby, as many Olympic sports will testify."

Recent World Anti-Doping Authority figures for union and league showed were 66 failures from 2,673 tests in competition; compared to 54 failures from 4,693 out-of-competition tests.

"Rugby clearly has a drug problem, in both codes," the MoS reported.

"Of the 59 current UKAD sanctions, 17 are from union and 12 are from league at a time when the focus on size, speed and strength has never been greater."

Former England coach Dick Best said: 'If it's as little as 16 in-competition tests in 132 Premiership games it looks like a bit of a token gesture.

"And what worries me about that is the possibility that, as players become aware of it, they might be enticed to take more risks and do something stupid."