Wallaby prop James Slipper banned for positive cocaine test

SYDNEY — Australia test prop and Queensland Reds captain James Slipper has been suspended for two months for twice testing positive for cocaine.

Rugby Australia said Thursday that Slipper returned the positive tests from urine samples taken between February and May. He was also fined 27,500 Australian dollars ($20,800).

The 28-year-old Slipper has played 86 tests for Australia since 2010 and 95 matches for Queensland's Super Rugby side. The suspension means Slipper will not be available for the Wallabies' three-test series against Ireland in June.

A tribunal hearing said it took into account Slipper's "personal circumstances, his service to club and country and previous good character," when it considered the fine.

Slipper later issued a statement on social media saying he had been suffering from depression.

"I have been suffering wellness issues, including depression, for a year," Slipper wrote on Twitter. "The advice is that I will make a speedy and total recovery. In no way do my personal circumstances excuse my actions, but I recognize now that I was not coping and that I need to properly address these wellness issues. I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize unreservedly."

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said she was disappointed that one of its senior players had failed a drug test.

"We are fully aware that James is dealing with very significant personal issues and we have been working with him since February on these matters," Castle said.

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