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Sailor's rugby career under dark cloud

By Darren Walton 14/05/2006 09:07:26 PM Comments (0)

Wendell Sailor's long and distinguished professional football career could be over within a month after the dual international tested positive to a banned substance.

Sailor was informed on Friday night he had returned a positive A sample and the 31-year-old has another week to request his B sample be analysed.

If he doesn't, and he also fails to challenge the A sample result, Sailor will be rubbed out of the game for two years.

A return to rugby league is not an option because the 13-a-side code is also bound by the World Anti-Drug Agency's strict doping protocols.

The positive test was believed to be for recreational drugs but the Australian Rugby Union and NSW Rugby Union would not comment on reports that it had been for cocaine use.

Sailor's manager Greg Keenan said in a statement that they had approached the Rugby Union Players' Association to request legal advice.

On contract with the ARU until the end of the 2007 season, Sailor - a veteran of 37 Tests for the Wallabies and 21 Tests for the Kangaroos - stands to lose an estimated $1 million in playing fees, plus hundreds of thousands more in endorsements.

Sailor has been stood down from all forms of rugby and even his NSW Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie admits his playing future is in jeopardy.

While reluctant to hang Sailor before his star winger was proven guilty, McKenzie said he was unsure whether he would play rugby union or rugby league again.

"Wendell's got an issue he needs to sort out," said McKenzie, almost resigned to being without Sailor for the Waratahs' Super 14 finals campaign.

"We haven't got too many games left, so it's not looking too good at this stage.

"Hopefully, we've got two games left so we'll just have to see what happens."

McKenzie, who recruited Sailor from the Queensland Reds this season, said he had not spoken to his charge since learning of the breach of the ARU's Code of Conduct.

The only exchange between the two was a text message from Sailor to his coach, expressing his remorse.

"He's obviously sorry, there's no question about that," McKenzie said.

Sailor's untimely axing from NSW's pivotal match against the Hurricanes on Saturday night caused unwanted disruptions to McKenzie's team, as well as an 11th-hour rejig of the backline, which no doubt contributed to the 19-14 defeat which cost the Waratahs a $1 million gate for a home semi-final.

Little wonder McKenzie said he didn't have time to deal with Sailor as the Waratahs prepared for their sudden-death semi against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday night.

"I don't enjoy having players not available - injured, suspended, whatever," McKenzie said.

"So I'm disappointed. I like Wendell, but at the moment he can't help me, so I'm focused on the players that can and what we've got to do next week.

"I haven't spoken to him, haven't had any discussions about it ... I haven't got time to be distracted by things that aren't going to help me on Friday."

Sailor's indiscretion is just the latest in a string of misdemeanours in a top-flight football career spanning 14 seasons.

During his league days, he was arrested in Townsville at 5am for being drunk in a public place while with the Kangaroos preparing for World Cup match in 2000 and later fined $400 and ordered to pay $500 compensation for spitting in a woman's face at a nightclub the previous night.

After switching codes in 2002, Sailor smashed a truck window and admitted to being the aggressor in the road rage incident in Brisbane before apologising and paying for the damage.

In 2003, Sailor was fined for talking on mobile phone while driving, with police learning he was also driving unlicensed.

Last year, he was one of three Wallabies to receive a two-Test suspended sentence and fine over a Cape Town nightclub incident which led to Matt Henjak being sent home from the tour.

And earlier this year, he was sent home in shame from the Waratahs' tour of South Africa after another incident outside a Cape Town nightclub in which a drunken Sailor threw up in a pot plant and shoved a fellow patron.

He was fined $4000 and banned for three Super 14 matches before vowing to keep his nose clean.

"One thing about these types of things, if you're getting repeated offences obviously then there's issues that maybe you can't fix," McKenzie said, adding this latest incident did nothing for the image of rugby.

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