Ipswich chairman Steve Johnson.
Ipswich chairman Steve Johnson. Sarah Harvey

'We're not drug cheats': Jets hit back at doping claims

IPSWICH chairman Steve Johnson has hit back at claims the club has a drug culture following revelations a second Jets player has tested positive to a banned substance.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Jets hierarchy are locked in a private battle with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority over a positive drugs test involving former Fiji World Cup centre Nemani Valekapa.

The Valekapa saga comes just days after ASADA announced a one-year ban for Ipswich playmaker Luke Capewell, who tested positive to the banned substance Higenamine, which is found in some pre-workout supplements.

It is understood Valekapa has also tested positive to the same substance. The veteran centre, a key member of Ipswich's 2015 premiership team, has been mysteriously missing from the Jets line-up since his most recent game against PNG on August 5 last year.

But Valekapa has been stood down pending a resolution between the Jets and ASADA, who have yet to formally issue a sanction against the 31-year-old Ipswich veteran.

Valekapa is believed to be shattered over the incident. Deeply religious, the Fijian flyer doesn't drink coffee and it is alleged he only consumed a pre-workout drink at training last year at the behest of an Ipswich teammate after complaining of a sore throat.

Johnson refused to discuss the Valekapa affair but scoffed at suggestions the Jets are dabbling in illicit drugs, saying Capewell was unaware a pre-workout drink he consumed contained a banned substance.

"Luke is not a drug cheat and nor is our club," Johnson said. "I've seen comments about us being drug cheats, but we know we are not.

"We are proud of what we do, we better young lives and try to help young men get better as people.

"How could anyone possibly think a drug culture exists at the Jets?

"Our coaches, Ben and Shane Walker, have never touched an illegal substance in their lives whether it's a street drug or performance-enhancing drug.

"They are shattered at what has happened to Luke Capewell.

"It has upset them and all of us at the Jets greatly."

Johnson said Capewell would be welcomed back to Ipswich when his ban ends on August 11 and explained how the former Brisbane Bronco breached anti-doping rules.

"Luke took a pre-workout drink that contained higenamine, which used to be legal," Johnson said. "It was placed on the banned list by ASADA last year. It went from a legal to illegal product and that's how Luke was caught out.

"Luke was using it for 10 years and was even given it during his NRL career by clubs when it was a legal product, but unfortunately the rules (on higenamine consumption) were changed.

"Luke is shattered. He came to the Jets to play for love not money and has been great for us.

"He has had some counselling and we've given him some advice and support.

"He is welcome back at our club when his ban ends because we knew the circumstances."



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