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Page last updated at 18:05 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

Six Nations: Armitage to appeal against eight-week ban

Delon Armitage
Armitage could miss most of the Six Nations campaign

London Irish full-back Delon Armitage is to appeal against his eight-week ban for pushing an anti-doping official.

Armitage was found guilty of using threatening and/or abusive and obscene language during a test after the Exiles' game against Bath on 1 January.

His ban was due to end on 16 March, three days before England's last match Six Nations match in Ireland.

A London Irish statement said they were disappointed at the outcome of the Rugby Football Union hearing.

"Having been given just 48 hours' notice of the charges and the hearing, Delon hopes to be given a proper opportunity to prepare his case in order that the appeal panel may reach a decision which takes into account the circumstances of the incident," said the club.

"Delon Armitage does not accept that the incident is analogous to abuse of a match official, and he believes that applying a tariff applicable to on-field offences, when this was an incident largely in the privacy of the dressing room, has resulted in the imposition of a disproportionate sanction."

RFU disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett said after Thursday's judgement that Armitage's ban had been reduced from 12 weeks to eight weeks on account of his remorse, his letter of apology to the doping control officer and his relatively good record."

But, he added: "His behaviour was completely unacceptable. It brought discredit on himself and his club and failed to uphold one of the core values of the game - respect.

"Doping control officers should expect to carry out their important work without fear of abuse and be treated with respect at all times."

Armitage, who has won 19 caps, is a member of Martin Johnson's England elite player squad.

He made three appearances as a replacement during the recent autumn Test series, and was expected to be part of England's match-day squad for their Six Nations opener against Wales in Cardiff on 4 February.

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see also
Armitage banned for eight weeks
20 Jan 11 |  London Irish
Hodgson & Deacon in England squad
12 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 24-25 Bath
01 Jan 11 |  English
Armitage focuses on London Irish
24 Mar 10 |  London Irish

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