Saturday 18 November 2017

Rugby's bloodgate doctor to retain licence

Team medic was suffering from depression at time

Alicia Craven in London

THE doctor who deliberately cut the lip of a Harlequins rugby player to cover up a fake injury can continue to practise medicine.

Last night Britain's General Medical Council (GMC) made the decision to allow Wendy Chapman to work as a doctor.

Dr Chapman admitted cutting the lip of winger Tom Williams after he was substituted during the English premiership club's vital Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster in April 2009.

Williams had chewed on a fake blood capsule to force a late blood replacement substitution, allowing a specialist goalkicker to take to the field in an effort to save the game.

The GMC, concluding an investigation into the incident, said club doctor Chapman had committed serious misconduct but was under stress at the time, suffering from depression and awaiting the results of a breast cancer scan.

"You do not pose any risk to patients or to the public. The panel accepts that there is a public interest in retaining the services of a good doctor," the GMC said.

"The insistence by Tom Williams for you to cut him whilst in the highly charged atmosphere of the changing room was a unique situation which resulted in an ethical dilemma."

Williams's supposed injury meant a specialist goal kicker could come on to the pitch for Harlequins in the dying minutes of last year's Heineken Cup rugby union quarter-final tie against Leinster, who held on to win 6-5.

Last week, Dr Chapman told the GMC panel she was "ashamed" she gave in to pressure from Williams, who begged her in the changing rooms to conceal that, minutes earlier, he had bitten into a fake-blood capsule on the pitch.

She said she was then "horrified" that she went on to lie to a European Rugby Cup (ERC) hearing that the injury was genuine and supported the club's initial statement of innocence.


The panel accepted medical evidence which showed Dr Chapman was suffering from depression for about two years before she cut the player's lip on April 12 last year.

It noted she was also awaiting the results of an MRI scan to exclude the possibility of breast cancer and was involved in a work dispute at her NHS post. Dr Alderman said it was clear that Dr Chapman's mental health was "much better now" following treatment and that she was not currently suffering from depression.

Former Harlequins director of rugby and ex-England international Dean Richards was given a three-year ban by an ERC appeals panel after Williams later changed his evidence and told the truth.

It emerged during the hearing that Richards ordered fake blood injuries on four other occasions and orchestrated the 'bloodgate' cover-up.

Williams's initial 12-month ban was reduced to four months after his admission of the capsule use. The club was fined £258,000 (€312,000).

Irish Independent

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