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Rhys Williams to Compete After Doping Ban
In July of 2014, Wales lost two competitive runners to drug tests that showed the presence of banned substances in their systems. Neither of the alleged dopers were allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year, leaving Wales short their 400 meter hurdler Rhys Williams, and their 800 meter runner Gareth Warburton.

Even from the outset, Williams was vocal about his stance on the failed test results. According to Williams, the results came as shocking and devastating news to him, and that he had not taken any kind of banned substance knowingly.

Rhy Williams

The hurdler wore a stone face and offered to meet the allegations against him and accept his responsibility, saying that he has always been a supporter and advocated keeping the sport clean. He also made it clear that he was responsible in the situation, and that was committed to working with the anti-doping authorities during the legal process.

On Sunday 18 January, Olympian 400 meter Hurdler Rhys Williams announced that he is ready again to compete. This announcement comes after Williams finished a ban of four months that he got for testing positive on a drug test that tested for banned steroid last year.

At the same time, Welsh 800 meter runner Gareth Warburton's ban has been reduced to a term of only six months after he also failed to pass a test for banned substances in June.

As it turns out, both runners' cases were the result of a commercial energy drink. The supplement in question has been discovered to contain the metabolites of the anabolic steroid Trenbolone.

The National Anti-Doping Panel and the UK Anti-Doping Panel have both cleared each of the two athletes on allegations of knowingly cheating. The runners have now had their bans both made retroactive to the instatement of their perspective provisional suspensions, which was last July.

Sunday, Williams made it clear that he was definitely looking forward to his competition in the 2015 Beijing World Championships this August.

30 year old Rhys Williams (son of the Welsh rugby great JJ Williams) had said of his situation: although he has maintained that he never intentionally took and substances banned by the authorities, he was pleased to hear that both the NADP and UK Anti-Doping came to agree with him on the subject.

He went on to add that he did all necessary checking within his power before using the product in question, and in this unfortunate instance, it was the manufacturer of the product that had severely let him down.

Williams continued that he did accept the responsibility for supplements he took, and accepted the ban. He was absolutely devastated by the situation, but was most particularly hurt by the fact that the events lead to his inability to represent Wales for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year.

In addition to saying that he hopes younger athletes may learn from this unpleasant experience, Williams also expressed his interest in getting back on-track with his current focus being now firmly set on gaining a place in the upcoming 2015 Beijing World Championships.

Williams' success in beating the doping charges lay in his legal team. They were able to successfully argue on his behalf. The legal team argued that even though the Olympian's test did come back positive before the new code for the World Anti-Doping Code was introduced on 1 January, Williams should have the benefit of the new discretionary powers afforded to tribunals in cases in which no major faulty intent or negligence is found to be the responsibility of an athlete in question.

As one of the partners in the law firm (Charles Russell Speechlys LLP) that represented Williams, Colin Gibson gave a statement that reflected how they approached the case. He stated that the decision that the tribunal handed down was significant because it was an early use of the new 2015 WADC rules to an instance that had been brought under the old rules. This ruling should serve as a precedent for any future cases surrounding contaminated or unclearly documented supplement cases.

This absolution for the two Welshmen serves as a foundation for future cases in which athletes may unknowingly ingest banned substances, and serves to show the breadth of available actions for future cases of alleged doping in which the WADC has a hand.

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