'Bloodgate' doctor to give evidence to disciplinary panel

The doctor at the centre of the “Bloodgate” scandal will today give her account of events to a disciplinary panel.

The doctor at the centre of the “Bloodgate” scandal will today give her account of events to a disciplinary panel.

Harlequins winger Tom Williams told the fitness to practise hearing yesterday that club medic Wendy Chapman was unaware he bit into a fake-blood capsule during their Heineken Cup quarter-final tie against Leinster last April.

His so-called blood-related injury meant specialist goal-kicker Nick Evans could come on to the pitch in the dying minutes of the game against the Irish side, who held on to win 6-5.

Dr Chapman admitted yesterday for the first time that she later cut the player’s lip with a stitch cutter in the changing rooms after previously not mentioning the incident at a disciplinary committee of the European Rugby Cup (ERC).

She admitted the majority of charges against her from the General Medical Council (GMC) which says her conduct on the matchday and at the subsequent ERC hearing was likely to bring the profession into disrepute and was dishonest.

Her counsel Mary O’Rourke told the fitness to practise hearing Williams was “panicky and agitated” because he knew he had done something wrong and Leinster had “rumbled him” and match officials were making inquiries.

Williams agreed his departure from the pitch was “not convincing”, he “over-exaggerated” and winked as he came off, which was picked up by Sky Sports TV cameras.

Ms O’Rourke suggested he “begged or beseeched” the doctor to cut him to cover up the fake injury.

“I think I was very panicky,” he replied. “I asked her at least twice. I may have said, ’You have got to cut my lip’. It was more of a very panicky and concerned reaction.”

Ms O’Rourke continued: “She was in fact made a victim by your actions because you brought her into it, or you dragged her into it?”

“As a result of the situation, yes,” Williams replied.

Williams, 26, added he would have been “quite insistent” in making the request and that she “reluctantly went along with it”.

Opening the case for the GMC, Michael Hayton said the Heineken Cup tie at the Twickenham Stoop ground on April 12 last year was of “enormous importance” in terms of prestige and the economic benefits of 300,000 euros (£245,000) to the tournament winner.

Substitute Williams came on but left the field with five minutes remaining of the game with blood apparently coming from his mouth so that New Zealander Evans - who was previously subbed himself – could return.

Happily for all parties, said Mr Hayton, Evans missed a late goal kick, but “sadly for all parties of the game of rugby union, Tom Williams was not bleeding from his mouth.

“He had been sent on to the field of play and had bitten into a theatrical blood capsule, of a type used in amateur dramatics, to imitate blood,” he said. “This was cheating to get the best kicker back on to the field.”

Mr Hayton said Dr Chapman had no knowledge or active participation in the fake-blood injury on the field but that her role came in the immediate aftermath of the blood replacement when she attended to Williams on the treatment table.

When two match officials entered the room, Dr Chapman was examining Williams’ mouth and said his tooth was “wobbly”, the player said. He told the fitness to practise panel that his tooth was not loose.

He then asked her to cut his lip.

Williams said he told an initial ERC hearing into the incident that he sustained a genuine injury to his mouth but he changed his story at a later appeal.

“What I said happened was what I have just told this hearing,” he said. “It was a fabricated injury.”

Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards was given a three-year ban by the ERC appeals panel after Williams changed his evidence.

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 was banned for two years and the club itself was fined £258,000.

Dr Chapman, an accident and emergency consultant at Maidstone Hospital in Kent, was cleared of any wrongdoing at the first hearing by the ERC which then ruled it had no jurisdiction over her in the appeal case.

The doctor, who the panel heard was recovering from a mastectomy, admitted she cut the player’s lip because he wanted to demonstrate a “real injury”.

She also conceded she stated in front of match officials that he had a loose tooth but said her intention was not to deceive others that Williams sustained an injury.

She is currently suspended from duty pending the outcome of the scheduled two-week GMC hearing in Manchester.

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