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'Bloodgate' physio Stephen Brennan struck off

Stephen Brennan and Tom Williams
Image caption Stephen Brennan admitted staging the incident

A physiotherapist has been struck off for his role in the rugby union "bloodgate" affair.

Stephen Brennan staged Tom Williams' blood injury during Harlequins' Heineken Cup match against Leinster in April 2009.

During a two-day hearing he also admitted using fake blood capsules a further four times in three years.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) found that his misconduct had impaired his fitness to practise.

The HPC conduct and competence committee found he was a willing and active participant and had taken a critical role in events.

Harlequins were losing 6-5 in the 2009 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Irish side Leinster when Tom Williams bit a fake blood capsule.

Specialist kicker

The supposed injury allowed a specialist goal kicker on to the pitch as a substitute for the Harlequins player in the final minutes of the game but they failed to win.

Mr Brennan had told the hearing: "I followed orders and wish I hadn't. Yes, I went on to the pitch with the intention of deceiving the referee.

"I regret it every day."

He admitted six allegations including that while employed by Harlequins he knew of, and/or organised, and/or assisted in the fabrication of the blood injury to Williams during the Heineken Cup clash.

In relation to this Mr Brennan was alleged to have purchased fake blood capsules, provided one to Williams and knew it was an attempt to cheat.

Other allegations centred on an attempt to conceal Williams' blood injury by providing untruthful and/or inaccurate evidence at a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing.

He was also accused of being involved in fabricating blood injuries on a number of occasions in games other than the Heineken quarter-final.

Joke shop

Mr Brennan admitted giving players fake blood capsules, on three occasions for the player's welfare and the fourth time to get a player on to the pitch after a team-mate had been sent to the sin-bin.

He told the panel he bought fake blood capsules from a joke shop in Clapham, south London, in 2005 and 2007 but said they were not regularly kept in his physio bag.

He was reimbursed for the purchase by Harlequins by making a claim on expenses.

The HPC said Mr Brennan's actions were premeditated and designed to deceive over a number of years.

It concluded that his misconduct was clear and while his clinical skills were not in doubt his dishonesty was.

The former Harlequins physiotherapist is serving a two-year suspension from rugby and has been working in private practice for the past year.

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