Jamie Acton: Former Wigan Warriors forward demands more communication around substance abuse in rugby league

A former Wigan Warriors player has opened up about his own battles with drugs and the widespread problem with substance abuse in rugby league.
Jamie ActonJamie Acton
Jamie Acton

Jamie Acton, who also played for Leigh Centurions, discussed his past issues in a recent Instagram post, where he also revealed he had been handed a backdated two-year ban, three years after retiring.

The ex-forward has not feared talking about the problems he has had with his mental health because of drugs, in order to try and help others, but he has been asked by the rugby league authorities to take down some of his videos in the past.

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In his recent post, he said: “I put a video on six months ago talking about all the drugs I took in my playing career. I talked about how that had a huge negative impact in my life for a variety of reasons.

“Not long after posting that I got a phone call from someone at the RFL, and they asked me to take it down because I was putting the sport in disrepute.

“That’s obviously true and unfortunate because I love rugby league, so I would never want to speak badly about the game, but as any governing bodies stands there are elements they don’t get right and there are always improvements to be made.

“Regarding mental health and player welfare there is a massive area of improvement that can be made. I think this was highlighted by their response to me, trying to demonise it, and the lengths they’ll go to not to reveal the situation, which is rugby players take drugs.

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“You’re probably abnormal in the rugby world if you haven’t taken drugs at some point whether that is socially or performance enhancing.

“That problems aren’t really spoken about, and when you’re in the rugby culture you turn a blind eye to it because it’s part of what people do.

“I think it is important for players to talk about their own experiences and try and help younger players learn from our faults. What I did was wrong, if I had my time again, I wouldn’t do it.

“If I had people, I looked up to telling me it was a bad idea then I could’ve learnt lessons on their behalf. The key to all that is communication.”

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His recent ban comes after a sample he took in 2014 was re-tested using new science, with it returning a positive result for GHPR6.

“I think I’ve become the first retired rugby player to be banned and it’s the furthest they’ve gone back in retrospect. I don’t understand the logic in banning a retired player, but I suppose they are trying to showcase not taking drugs.

“I don’t believe to stop people doing it is to ban ex-players, I’d rather see people talking about the subject.”

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