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Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 20:28 UK

Players asked to expose cheating

Quins winger Tom Williams walks off with fake blood pouring from his mouth
Quins winger Tom Williams was at the heart of the 'bloodgate' scandal

Every professional in English rugby is to be sent a questionnaire asking them to unmask any cheating in the game.

A group looking at the game's image is offering whistle-blowers anonymity and immunity from disciplinary action.

Coaches, medics and administrators will also be contacted before the group reveals its findings on 30 September.

John Owen, chairman of the Image of the Game Task Group, said: "If they talk to us they will be heard and those discussions will not be disclosed."

The move comes after a summer of scandals that saw cocaine use and a fake blood controversy dominate the headlines.

Bath, who had seen prop Matt Stevens banned after testing positive for cocaine during the season, had another player test positive for the drug before three further players resigned from the club and were subsequently banned for refusing to take a drugs test.

We are all committed to drawing a line under the past and restoring the good image of the game

Group chairman John Owen

Harlequins were then handed a big fine and saw winger Tom Williams and coach Dean Richards banned for four months and three years respectively over the fake blood controversy, which was quickly dubbed 'bloodgate'.

Concern about the game's image has led to the formation of the task group, a 13-man body that includes representatives from the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premier Rugby (PRL) and the Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA), and numbers ex-England captain Lawrence Dallaglio among its members.

Owen, president of the RFU and chairman of the task group, said the different bodies represented on the group shared "a collective responsibility to eliminate cheating from the game".

"We are all committed to drawing a line under the past and restoring the good image of the game," he added.

"To achieve that all dialogue inside the group and with the group must remain entirely confidential. For this reason this will be the final public statement from the group until the publication of its final recommendations on 30 September."

The PRA will email a short questionnaire to its members on Friday while the RFU and clubs' body PRL will approach the coaching and support staff.

In addition to the questionnaire the group is also interested in hearing from any former or current employees of Premiership or Championship clubs who have information about inappropriate behaviour in the game.

They can ring the RFU to arrange a confidential meeting with members of the Task Group, while the RFU is setting up an online consultation process for the amateur game.

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see also
Dallaglio named in RFU task force
28 Aug 09 |  English
Physio Brennan quits England post
22 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards ban to extend worldwide
18 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
I ordered blood scam - Richards
19 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards banned for three years
17 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards resigns Harlequins post
08 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins stunned by fake injury fine
20 Jul 09 |  Harlequins
Quins substitution under scrutiny
17 Apr 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins 5-6 Leinster
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union

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