Three-year doping ban handed out to Dougie Steele

Marr utility back tested positive to two prohibited substances in an out-of-competition at a training session on 27th January

Image: © Craig Watson -
Image: © Craig Watson -

DOUGLAS STEELE, who was a member of the Marr squad which lifted the Premiership title last season, has been banned from all sport for a period of three years following a first Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) for the presence of two prohibited substances in his urine sample.

The suspension comes after UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) collected an out-of-competition urine sample from Steele at a Marr training session on 27th January 2022, which returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for a metabolite of dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT) and metabolites of oxandrolone.

DHCMT and oxandrolone are both anabolic agents, listed under S1.1 of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2022 Prohibited List. Both of these non-specified prohibited substances are banned at all times.

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Steele was hit with a provisional suspension from sport on 12th May, and charged with the commission of ADRVs for the presence and use of prohibited substances on 5th August 2022. He admitted the ADRVs and accepted the asserted period of ineligibility four days later. In accordance with ADR Article 10.8.1, he was able to reduce the four-year asserted period of ineligibility to three-years.

The ban commenced on 12th May 2022 and will expire at midnight on 11th May 2025.

“We operate a zero-tolerance policy for any prohibited substances, which have no place in our sport. In many cases they have a detrimental effect on the health of the individual and as such we welcome today’s ban which can act as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to take them,” said Scottish Rugby’s Chief Medical Officer Dr James Robson MBE.

“We run a comprehensive education programme and will not hesitate to implement our intelligence-led approach to target those who we suspect may be using prohibited substances at any level of the game.”

UKAD Director of Operations, Pat Myhill, said: “Players who use anabolic agents to improve their performance, or who do not follow the principles of strict liability in clean sport, are letting the side down,” “Anabolic agents such as these are prohibited in sport at all times, and can have serious health risks for the athletes taking them.”

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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Haven’t checked in for a while on this one….lots of hypocrisy at ignoring obvious PED abuse in pros to have a pop at a club side …no comments about the effort and money SRU spend on the recruitment from nations that are blatant about PEDs….whilst young Scottish players that are clean at 15 are filed under GTF….just cos one SH nation has mastered PED use for two years before mandatory testing n gets away with it is ok for some on here if we can get some retribution free benefit is fine… doesn’t matter if it blocks young Scottish players from getting picked or developed.

  2. Dougie Steele came back into the Marr side last season on 4th December, in the away fixture at Aberdeen. He started the last 7 games of the regular season for Marr, as well as the semi-final and final of the play offs. So, he played 9 games in total last season.
    He has not played at all this season (presumably since his provisional suspension in May).

    People have rightly highlighted the need for a reaction to the failed test at 3 levels.
    Firstly, personally. We have to hope the individual player is getting support, to address whatever issues led him to take the banned substance. The punishment part of the response is clear – a 3-year ban. There are many very good people at Marr, so I am sure player support will be strong.
    Secondly, at a club level. This is a difficult one – should team-mates suffer for the actions of one individual, especially when the game is amateur, and there presumably is not the same liability as a professional sports team? Hopefully, there is in the SRU protocols, something already set down, as to whether clubs are punished for individual breaches of the laws, and these will be followed, rather than pundits making up the rules as we go along. People have rightly pointed out that another player at Marr was found guilty of a similar offence a few seasons ago. Hopefully the protocols set down what happens if there is a 2nd offence at a club, and what relevance time lapses between offences have.
    Thirdly, at a national level. When a similar issue effected a Scotland Under 20 player about 8 years ago, part of the response to that was to involve the player in education programmes aimed at other players of the same age. Thankfully these incidents are very rare and isolated in Scottish rugby, so in general we have to say such education is having a positive effect, but this new incident should remind us never to become complacent on the issue.

    • Not certain but think the other player mentioned was new to club (and country) testing and dropping out early on.

  3. Not such a young man! His age is given as 26 in an article from 2017 when he was a player at Heriots.

  4. Looking at the team sheets he started the last 9 games of the season for Marr to answer your question, so the second half of the season. Also looking at the offside line report of the final he was also close to man of the match in the final.

  5. A search of the net is yet to see any comment that I can find from Marr on this matter. Surely Marr need to acknowledge and address this. They will have known about the failed tests since May why the silence?

  6. Marr should be stripped from the title. This is an abomination!
    Not the first time they have cheated and won’t be the last. Disgraceful.

  7. The zero tolerance line would seem a lot more convincing if we were not spending so much money recruiting pro players from nations that are riddled with the use of PEDs. I hope this chap gets the support required and yes with that we need to look at punishment too. Let’s not kid ourselves that this is a problem at amateur level and the pros are squeaky clean.

  8. Green Hawk how many games did this a player that played a big part in their title success actually start for Marr in that season. I think he also played for Boroughmuir and Ayr amongst others so was he cheating then as well?? We will never know but what madness and will forever be known as a drug cheat but as Grant so eloquently put he needs help not castigated.

    • I did check a few key games towards the end of the season and he appeared in all of them. Even it had been one game as a replacement, the rules would have been broken. I’d personally be surprised if Marr were allowed to retain their title, which would be sad for the club, but sporting integrity comes first. Agree that the guy concerned should be supported, people make mistakes.

  9. This is cheating and the penalties should be tough.

    But we also need to look after that guy. He has been dealt a blow by his own hand. But that doesn’t mean he gets cast to the four winds. I’d say there’s a lot going on there for someone to consider taking PED’s in a tested environment.

    Wherever that pressure is coming from, it doesn’t matter. He’s a young guy that has accepted his guilt and the punishment. However, his mental health needs to be looked after. For any competitive sportsperson this is a major blow to their psyche and he will always be known for cheating.

    That will lay heavy on his mind.

    This may not be a popular opinion, but its the right approach. We need to look after our lads even when they screw up. I hope he gets the support needed to turn this around.

    • Who is the ‘We’ you refer to? The readers of this blog? Scottish Rugby Union? Marr Rugby Club?
      Sorry but I have zero tolerance of drug cheats.
      As others have highlighted plenty of questions for Marr including,

      what education it provided to players on performance enhancing drugs
      When was the club aware of the test outcome and what actions it took as a result

      • It appears you have zero tolerance full stop, or the ability to forgive.

        This is a human being we are talking about who has made a mistake that he will pay heavily for. Its not up to anyone here to be judge, jury and executioner. You have no idea of the context of how this happened or how much pressure he was being put under.

        People do foolish things in the pursuit of excellence and ‘winning’. I’ve been around competitive environments for a long time and the path he took is easy enough to fall into with the wrong set of circumstances.

        The ‘We’ is the rugby community, his club, the SRU, his family and whomever else he needs support from. It seems though you’d rather put a young lad in the stocks and throw your vitriol at him for his mistakes.

        Have some compassion…it goes a long way to creating an environment where people can talk about their fears before they make foolish decisions that potentially could ruin all they were striving for. Communication with young players is key to creating a supportive environment that could prevent this happening.

      • I would suggest the “we” refers to decent compassionate human beings. It is of course your choice whether you think you belong to this group.

      • Absolutely correct, Highland Bear. Zero tolerance should be sport’s response.

        In the absence of mitigating circumstances (none evidently offered….) both player and club should accept the consequences of cheating. Bottom line is that clubs (including SRU-controlled entities) should take responsibility for those who represent them, on and off the field of play. A salutary message, including the Governing Body and ProTeam management – as many, especially those with memories of despicable behaviour in a Glasgow kebab shop almost exactly 9 years ago, will know and understand.

        To read comments about “forgiveness” in such instances is utterly risible – certainly in a rugby / sport context, even if there might be wider social implications.

  10. Would tend to agree. Sadly for Marr, a player that played a big part in their title success was cheating. Cycling and athletics have famously stripped medals/titles for similar.

  11. So, would it not be reasonable to follow the example of athletics and strip Marr of their title as the insinuation appears to be that this was no surprise.
    Let’s stop the cancers in rugby like drug- taking and match official abuse by hitting the clubs with points deduction or title removals.


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