NICO STEENKAMP of Rotherham Titans has been suspended from participating in Rugby Union for three months for an Anti-Doping Rule Violation after testing positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine.

The suspension by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel on March 9, 2011 runs from January 28, 2011 (provisional suspension date) to April 28, 2011 and includes coaching, officiating, selection, team management, administration or promotion of the Game, playing, training as part of a team or squad, or involvement in the Game in any other capacity in any Union in membership of the International Rugby Board. He can resume these activities on April 29, 2011.

Steenkamp tested positive following the RFU Championship match against Cornish Pirates at Clifton Lane on January 8.

In the hearing Steenkamp said that his part time role as a player who leaving him shattered and after advice started taking the high-energy drink USN Anabolic Nitro, which he says was his only supplement.

The panel’s written judgement said: ”We were satisfied the player did not know that Anabolic Nitro contained MHA, and there was no reasonable basis upon which he could have know that such was the case.

“In this case, the player did not in any event take Anabolic Nitro with a view to enhancing his sport performance.

“Rather, he had taken Anabolic Nitro with the intention of alleviating fatigue caused by his arduous lifestyle and its logistical demands.

“He relied on assurances from someone who was not a doctor, from the seller of the supplement and from his own efforts on the internet.

“Even when the player made good faith efforts to leave no reasonable stone unturned, he is still at fault in failing to consult a doctor or anti-doping specialist, or indeed to have the substance analysed.

“Any athlete who takes a supplement without first taking advice from those with expertise in doping control, places himself at real risk of committing an anti-doping rule violation.

“He did take what he thought were his own reasonable steps to ascertain the status of the ingredients. They were not enough.”