sport

Wales star charged with doping

European 400m hurdles champion Rhys Williams has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games after being charged with doping offences.

Williams, who won gold in the 2012 European championships in Helsinki and a won a bronze in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, was the co-captain of the Wales team in Glasgow.

Williams, the son of rugby union great JJ Williams, insists he has done nothing wrong.

"I am utterly devastated about the news of this anti-doping rule violation, which has come as a great shock to me," he said in a statement.

"From the outset, I would strongly like to state that I have not knowingly taken any banned substance. As a professional athlete, I have always supported and have been an advocate of clean sport.

"However, I recognise that the responsibility for this situation lies with me and I'm committed to working with UK Anti-Doping and will fully cooperate in the legal process.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all the best to my team-mates at the Commonwealth Games.

"To be named co-team captain for the Welsh Athletics team was a great honour and I am distraught that I won't be able to fulfil this role and join them as part of Team Wales.

"I wish them all well. Finally, in line with this process and until the hearing of the National Anti-Doping Panel, I will not be making any further comment."

UK Anti-Doping chief executive Andy Parkinson confirmed: "We can confirm the provisional suspension of athlete Rhys Williams after being charged with committing an anti-doping rule violation under the IAAF Anti-Doping Rules.

"The athlete has the opportunity to respond to the charges against him, and to have those charges determined at a full hearing before the National Anti-Doping Panel.

"UK Anti-Doping will not be making any further comment."

The 30-year-old becomes the second Welsh athlete to be forced out of the Commonwealth Games over an alleged anti-doping violation after 800m runner Gareth Warburton.

A Team Wales statement said: "Team Wales has today announced the withdrawal of athlete Rhys Williams from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Rhys Williams has been handed a mandatory provisional suspension from all competition by UK Anti-Doping, after being charged with committing an anti-doping rule violation under the IAAF Anti-Doping Rules following an in-competition test at the Glasgow Grand Prix on 11 July 2014.

"The athlete has the opportunity to respond to the charges against him, and to have those charges determined at a full hearing before the National Anti-Doping Panel.

"Team Wales has worked with athletes to ensure they understand their anti-doping responsibilities. All athletes and athlete support personnel have had access to anti-doping education through their national governing body, which has been facilitated by Sport Wales and approved by UK Anti-Doping.

"UK Anti-Doping is the national anti-doping organisation for the UK and has responsibility for the management of results and prosecution of disciplinary proceedings brought under the anti-doping rules of the IAAF.

"Team Wales and UK Anti-Doping will not be making any further comment."