Karmichael Hunt today pleaded guilty at Southport Magistrates Court to four counts of possession of a prohibited drug. Karmichael was fined $2,500 and no conviction was recorded.
As a result, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today suspended Karmichael Hunt for six weeks and fined him $30,000.
Karmichael has accepted these penalties despite being contracted to another code during the time in question.
As such, the ARU, QRU and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) have determined that in accordance with the ARU’s Illicit Drugs Policy, he will also undergo a drug treatment and rehabilitation program and will be placed on a monitored and targeted drug testing program.
As Karmichael has already been made unavailable for selection for two weeks, he will return to competitive Rugby in Round Eight of the Super Rugby season. During the period Thursday 5 March to Sunday 22 March he will train at the Reds Ballymore facility at times when the main Reds squad are not training there. He will then integrate within Reds team training sessions from Monday 23 March in advance of the Reds’ Round Eight game against the Rebels in Melbourne.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “We are extremely disappointed in Karmichael’s actions as illicit substances have no place in Rugby. However we acknowledge that he is sincerely remorseful and has cooperated with the investigation and our integrity enquiries throughout this process. Karmichael has also accepted the penalty and consequences of his actions and understands the requirements of a professional athlete and the expectations of our code.”
QRU CEO Jim Carmichael said: “Each individual will have their own perspective and opinion on this issue and this specific case based on their personal life experience. In arriving at these penalties we have all been acutely mindful of our responsibilities to sport and the wider community, as well as the long-term interests of the game, our stakeholders and our fans.
“However, major professional sport in Australia also regards the use of illicit substances as a welfare issue in the first instance. Karmichael has shown significant contrition and remorse throughout this process and Rugby is now applying the rationale in its Illicit Drugs Policy to ensure Karmichael receives the appropriate education and rehabilitation in advance of a return to the Rugby field.
“We have also decided that in the circumstances, Karmichael will stand down as a vice-captain of the Reds. The Reds have a significant leadership group to offer support to our captain James Slipper.”
Karmichael Hunt said: “I made a terrible mistake last year and have no one but myself to blame for this situation. I am genuinely sorry for the distress I have caused my family, friends, team mates, Reds members, sponsors, fans and the wider Rugby and sporting community in Queensland and beyond.
“I intend to work through the education and rehabilitation program and will return to the game in a way that sends a clear message to sports fans of all ages that the use of illicit substances has no place in sport. I am grateful for the support I have received from Queensland Rugby over the past few weeks and intend to repay their loyalty through my future actions on and off the field.”
• All professional Rugby players in Australia undertake mandatory face-to-face and online education and training to ensure they are aware of their obligations relating to integrity including betting, anti-corruption, illicit drugs, performance enhancing drugs and sports supplements.
• Between 8 December 2014 and 24 February 2015, 390 professional Super Rugby and Sevens players and staff (including team staff, coaches, performance staff, administrators and other support staff) completed the online education program, ARU-RUPA Integrity Online.
• The ARU Anti-Doping Code prohibits all players and all team staff from using performance enhancing and illicit drugs and allows for testing during competition periods and covers our elite teams including Wallabies, Super Rugby, Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens, National Rugby Championship, National Under 20s and Australian Schoolboys. In 2014, 388 tests were carried out on Australian Rugby players through the ARU Anti-Doping Code – there were no positive results.
• The ARU Illicit Drugs Policy prohibits all players from using illicit drugs during out-of-competition periods and covers our elite players including Wallabies, Super Rugby and Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens. The Policy allows for testing during out-of-competition periods for professional players. 171 tests were carried out on Australian Rugby players in 2014 through the Policy – there were no positive results.