March 30, 2017 / 9:01 AM / 6 months ago

Rugby - England's Johnson worried about doping at elite level

Rugby Union - British & Irish Lions 2017 Tour Media Briefing - The Gherkin, London - 11/1/16 Martin Johnson during a press conference Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Andrew Boyers Livepic

(Reuters) - Use of illegal performance-enchancing drugs are a major concern for the Rugby Union and the switch from the amateur to professional era has played a major part in the issue, former England captain and coach Martin Johnson has said.

With 14 out of 42 athletes banned in the past two years by UK Anti-Doping coming from Rugby Union in England and Wales, Johnson believes he has a reason to be worried about the increasing use of banned substances.

“When I started playing, did I think anyone around the international team was (using drugs)? No chance,” Johnson, who led England to 2003 World Cup victory, told the Times.

”Would you be worried about it now? Absolutely. Things are more available, the internet, knowledge of it is more widespread.

“People are taking them, by all account, for vanity reasons.”

Johnson, however, said lucrative professional era has been the major contributing factor to the problem.

“Now the game is professional and we live in a different time where kids can see a livelihood and a good livelihood out of doing it, then you’ve got to be very careful,” he added.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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