'Bloodgate' doctor 'did not act in player's best interests', says panel

The matchday doctor at the centre of the 'Bloodgate' saga did not act in the best interests of the rugby player she cut to cover up a bogus injury, a disciplinary panel said today.

The matchday doctor at the centre of the 'Bloodgate' saga did not act in the best interests of the rugby player she cut to cover up a bogus injury, a disciplinary panel said today.

Dr Wendy Chapman previously said she was "ashamed" that she gave into pressure from Harlequins winger Tom Williams, who wanted to conceal that, minutes earlier, he had bitten into a fake-blood capsule.

His so-called injury meant a specialist goal kicker could come on to the pitch in the dying minutes of last April's Heineken Cup rugby union quarter-final tie against Leinster, who held on to win 6-5.

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

Ruling on the facts of the case, the GMC fitness-to-practise panel agreed that the former accident and emergency consultant at Maidstone Hospital in Kent had cut Williams' lip in the changing room after he made several heated requests.

However, panel chairman Brian Alderman said there was no evidence to say the intentional act was "pre-meditated or you had any involvement or knowledge of the deception".

He said: "The panel consider that, while Tom Williams was a professional player and part of the team and you were a team doctor, he was in fact your patient at the time of the incident.

"As a doctor, your care of duty was to the patient irrespective of the pressure you were feeling at the time. They (her actions) were not in the best interests of his health.

"You were there to treat his alleged injury, not to cause one."

The panel, sitting in Manchester, found all the charges proved against her except for an allegation that she stated Williams had a loose tooth in order to deceive others that he had sustained an injury on the field of play.

Later today it will consider submissions on whether her fitness to practise medicine is impaired because of her misconduct.

Williams had come on the pitch at The Stoop as a substitute but came off himself in the 75th minute with blood apparently gushing out of his mouth, which allowed New Zealander Nick Evans to return to the field as a blood replacement and attempt to kick a winning goal.

Blood replacements are substitute players temporarily brought on to the pitch while players with blood injuries receive treatment.

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 physiotherapist Steph Brennan - said to have given the capsule to the player - was banned for two years, and the club itself was fined £258,000.

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

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

Execution Time: 0.237 s