Former World Champion Richie Burnett has received an 18-month ban after testing positive for cocaine.
Burnett, who won the 1995 BDO World Championship by beating Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 in the final, has been officially suspended from all sport until May 2nd 2016.
The 48-year-old Welshman tested positive for the presence of benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, during the PDC Grand Slam of Darts qualifier at Wigan, on November 3rd last year.
Burnett was initially handed a two-year suspension by UK Anti-Doping, nevertheless following an appeal, it has been reduced to 18 months due to the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of the case.
There had been constant speculation about the cause of Burnett’s prolonged absence from the PDC circuit after he was removed from the PDC World Championship field last year due to ‘personal reasons’.
It’s a tremendous shame, given that Burnett has enjoyed a remarkable revival over recent years, after previously enduring a miserable slump in form that almost saw him slip out of the World’s Top 50 back in 2006.
He reached the World Grand-Prix semi-final in 2011 which saw him regain a spot in the World’s Top 32 and he subsequently represented Wales in the World Cup of Darts with Mark Webster, reaching the semi-finals in both 2012 and 2013.
Richie released the following statement this afternoon, after details of his ban were publicly revealed.
“I’d like to apologise to fans for my actions last year which have resulted in this ban. Those close to me will know the personal challenges I have faced over recent years.
Depression is an illness which affects people in different ways and impairs their decision-making, so I have been using this time to seek professional help and will continue to do so.
I’d like to place on record my thanks to my sponsors for sticking by me during these very difficult times.
I am determined to return to the game next May and be competitive at the highest level. By committing to improving my mental health and well-being as well as my physical health, I am sure I can compete again.”
I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Richie all the best with his recovery.