Leinster doctor ‘barred’ from Bloodgate changing room

LEINSTER’S match-day doctor Professor Arthur Tanner believes the Bloodgate scandal would not have happened if he had been allowed to inspect the bogus mouth injury of Harlequins wing Tom Williams.

Tanner said he was stopped from entering the Quins dressing room as his opposite number cut Williams’ lip to cover up the ruse in last year’s Heineken Cup quarter-final at The Stoop.

Dr Wendy Chapman said on Tuesday that she was ashamed that she succumbed to “huge pressure” from Williams, who wanted to conceal that minutes earlier he had bitten into a fake-blood capsule.

Williams had come on as a sub but came off himself in the 75th minute, with blood apparently gushing out of his mouth, allowing specialist kicker Nick Evans to return to the field. Evans’ late drop-goal attempt was miscued, however, and Leinster held on to win 6-5.

Dr Chapman has already admitted almost all the charges levelled against her by the UK General Medical Council, which says her conduct on the day and at a later European Rugby Cup (ERC) disciplinary hearing was likely to bring the profession into disrepute and was dishonest.

Prof Tanner — a former Leinster player and current director of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons — yesterday told the GMC fitness to practise hearing: “Had I been able to inspect the mouth it would have been obvious that there was no injury and no-one would have had to inflict an injury. It would have been over in an instant. I have no doubt if we had been able to call their bluff and he was sent back on to the field then that would have been the end of it.”

Prof Tanner said suspicions were first aroused when Evans was seen warming up pitchside not long after limping off from the game.

“It was quite obvious that what was coming out of his mouth was not blood. I knew instantaneously. I was remonstrating with the fourth official that there was something underhand but he was having nothing of it.

“When he (Williams) came off I asked that I be allowed at pitchside to examine the injury. I was obstructed from doing so by officials. I followed him down the tunnel after trying to argue with the referee and fourth official and getting nowhere.

“I went down to assess his injury as that was my right. I tried to enter the changing room. I was barred, I was not able to examine him. There was a lot of shouting. I could not hear what was being said apart from some expressions about keeping me out that I would rather not repeat.”

Prof Tanner said he then returned to the field before the tie ended and following Leinster’s victory wrote the incident off as “petty” and “clumsy”.

He agreed his feelings would have been “totally different” if his team had gone on to lose.

“The semi-final was two weeks later. There would have been no way to mount an appeal in that time,” he said.

Prof Tanner was asked to explain why he gave a newspaper interview after the scandal was uncovered in which he said he sympathised with Dr Chapman.

“My feelings for Dr Chapman revolved around the aftermath,” he said. “Perhaps her career and reputation has suffered a lot more. Rugby will get over it, no problem.

“Perversely, you can say it has helped. There was certainly a grey area over blood replacements.”

The initial ERC disciplinary hearing last July cleared Dr Chapman of conspiring to get Evans back on the pitch. After she was acquitted as a defendant she then effectively gave evidence as a prosecution witness, where she backed up the club’s initial version of events that the injury was real.

Dean Richards (then Harlequins director of rugby) was given a three-year ban by the ERC appeals panel after Williams later changed his evidence and told the truth.

It emerged during the hearing that Richards ordered fake blood injuries on four other occasions and orchestrated the Bloodgate cover-up.

Williams’ initial 12-month ban was reduced to four months after his admission of the capsule use, club physio Steph Brennan — said to have given the capsule to the player — was banned for two years and the club itself was fined £258,000 (€315,000).

Dr Chapman is currently suspended from practising medicine pending the outcome of the hearing in which she could be struck off.

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