'Bloodgate' physio struck off following hearing

Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan has been struck off following his role in rugby’s infamous 'Bloodgate' scandal.

Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan has been struck off following his role in rugby’s infamous 'Bloodgate' scandal.

The decision was made by the British Health Professions Council conduct and competence committee following a two-day hearing in London.

Brennan had accepted all but one of the allegations laid before him, denying that “by reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practice is impaired.”

Brennan is currently serving a two-year suspension from rugby, and for the past 12 months has been working in private practice. He admitted to five instances - including Bloodgate – of faking blood injuries.

Allegations against Brennan included that in the course of his employment with Harlequins he knew of, and/or organised, and/or assisted in the fabrication of a blood injury to wingerTom Williams during a Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Leinster in April 2009.

To this extent, Brennan was alleged to have purchased fake blood capsules, provided a fake capsule to Williams and knew at the time it was an attempt to cheat.

Other allegations centred on an attempt to conceal the blood injury to Williams, that Brennan provided untruthful and/or inaccurate evidence during the course of a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing and he was involved in fabricating blood injuries on a number of occasions in games other than the Heineken quarter-final.

Brennan yesterday spoke of his remorse for his role in the Bloodgate scandal, an episode that also saw Quins' ex-rugby director Dean Richards receive a three-year worldwide coaching ban.

Brennan stated that a fear of having his contract terminated left him with little option but to obey Richards during previous requests to use blood capsules.

He said: “I followed orders and wish I hadn’t. Yes, I went on to the pitch with the intention of deceiving the referee.

“I wish I’d stood up to Dean Richards. I regret it every day. I was told this is what I had to do – it was a split-second decision made during a match that had massive pressure on it.

“Giving a blood capsule to Tom Williams had nothing to do with physiotherapy, it was the stupid act of cheating.

“(After the incident) I had to walk away from my private clinic at Harlequins. I’ve been so ashamed of everything that’s happened that I couldn’t face the fans. Since it happened, I’ve done everything I can to say sorry and correct my ways.”

The HPC had a range of sanctions at its disposal, ranging from issuing a caution, suspension or having Brennan struck off.

Brennan admitted to five instances – including Bloodgate – of faking blood injuries, the first of which occurred during Harlequins’ season in the second tier of English rugby in 2005-06.

On three occasions this was for player welfare, while Brennan said the fourth was to get an unnamed player in a key position on to the pitch following a sin-binning of a team-mate.

Brennan also revealed that he used a presentation at an end-of-season management meeting in 2008 – almost a year before Bloodgate – to state that the physiotherapy department were uncomfortable faking blood injuries.

He had made two trips in 2005 and 2007 to a Clapham joke shop to buy blood capsules, but claimed the items were not regularly contained in his physio bag. He was reimbursed for the purchase by Harlequins through expenses.

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