Welsh rugby union player Mike Burgess was given a two year ban by the UK Anti-Doping Agency because of the presence of cocaine in his system ©UKAD

Welsh rugby union player Mike Burgess has been given a two-year ban from all sport after cocaine was found in his system following a domestic match in 2018.

Cocaine was found in Burgess' system after he provided a urine sample as part of a test following a Welsh Premiership match between Aberavon and Bargoed in October 2018.

Burgess appealed the ban and a hearing took place virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Burgess admitted that he consumed three grams of cocaine between October 14 and 15 while on a night out with friends, ahead of the match on October 20 after which he was tested.

He said he took the drug in "a social context rather than a sporting one", and UKAD accepted that the anti-doping violation was not committed intentionally.

However they concluded that Burgess "failed to establish that he had acted without significant fault or negligence", charging him with violating Anti-Doping Rule Article 2.1 - "Presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample."

"Cocaine is a dangerous drug with significant health risks, which has no place in sport," said Pat Myhill, UK Anti-Doping's director of operations.

"Even if they are taken in a social setting out-of-competition, athletes need to be aware it can stay in their system and that they can still receive a ban from sport if they test positive for the drug in-competition. 

"This case is one of many examples where cocaine use has resulted in an athlete receiving a ban from sport.

"The length of bans issued for cocaine can vary between cases, which is due to the flexible sanctioning framework set out in the anti-doping rules. 

"In Mr Burgess’ case, an independent expert witness ruled out the possibility that ingestion of cocaine took place during the in-competition period. 

"This means that a possible four year ban was reduced to two years.”

Burgess' ban started on October 20 2018, and runs through until October 19 2020.

There are currently 20 rugby union players serving bans issued by UKAD.