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Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 15:52 UK

Former Bath players lose appeal

Michael Lipman (left) and Alex Crockett
Lipman (left) and Crockett cannot play until February 2010

Former Bath co-captains Michael Lipman and Alex Crockett have failed in their attempt to overturn their nine-month bans for missing drugs tests.

The pair were banned for failing to undertake tests when Bath launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct by a number of players.

The pair's suspensions run from 1 June, 2009 - the date they resigned from Bath - until 28 February, 2010.

Andrew Higgins, who was suspended with them, has since retired from the game.

Lipman and Crockett were not present as a three-man Rugby Football Union (RFU) panel met in London to consider the appeal, taking just under two hours to reach a decision.

The RFU hearing was the duo's last hope of having their bans reduced within rugby union's disciplinary structure.

It means the pair must now pursue legal means if they are to have the sanction altered.

The reasoning behind the appeal panel's was released on Thursday, detailing the grounds on which Lipman and Crockett brought the action.

The pair argued that there was no lawful basis for the club to require them to submit to the drug tests; that they had a reasonable excuse for failing to supply the requested samples; that their conduct was not prejudicial to the interests of the game; and that the nine-month ban was excessive.

But the panel rejected almost all of the arguments made by the pair's legal team, and actually suggested that the nine-month ban - from a starting point of 15 months - was "if anything... erring on the side of generosity".

Bath said that while the matter was no longer a club issue they were satisfied that the decision "upholds the actions taken by the club at the end of last season and the original ruling by the RFU".

England international Lipman, 29, and 27-year-old Crockett were the co-captains of Bath last season.

Lipman has won 10 England caps and played 127 games for the club, while Crockett, who has played for England Saxons, has represented the club in 125 matches, scoring 21 tries.

Lipman, Crockett and Higgins resigned from Bath in June, on the eve of an internal investigation into the missed tests.

Bath had wanted to carry out tests on six players linked with allegations of drug use at end-of-season celebrations in London on 10 May that had ended in a fracas with Harlequins players.

Former Australia lock Justin Harrison resigned from the club after also failing to take a drugs test and later received an eight-month suspension after admitting to taking cocaine. Two other players took drug tests and were cleared.

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