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Libellous/defamatory comments on the forum

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    Libellous/defamatory comments on the forum

    In recent months and especially in the last few days, a number of posters have written comments either directly or indirectly implying that specific players, or specific teams, could have been using PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). We have also had to take action with regard to statements being made on here concerning other athletes outside of rugby. Plus on rare occasions in the past, we've also had to intervene where potentially defamatory comments have been made about named individuals outside of a sporting context.

    Anywhere we have spotted such comments, or where they've been drawn to our attention, they've been edited to remove the potentially libellous content and the posters concerned have been contacted asking them to be more careful with what they post. For the most part, the response has been positive and cooperative, and most people have also had the decency to apologise (which is appreciated), but unfortunately this hasn't always been the case.

    One of the forum rules states "Libellous or potentially libellous posts or links will be deleted and if deemed appropriate will result in a ban. The moderators reserve the right to decide what is / may be potentially libellous."

    For clarity - if a named individual or a specific group of players has been under discussion in a thread, it is NOT EVER ok to say something like "One of those guys obviously has personal issues, plus maybe they were on drugs". This is a perfect example of a libellous post. Similarly, nor is it acceptable to say something like "Think of all the players who take X medication. That's a really easy way to mask the use of PEDs". This is also potentially libellous. What sort of reaction could such a player have upon reading this comment, or having it brought to their attention?

    Not only could comments like the above get the author in court, it could also get the site in court. If that happens, in all likelihood the site would be closed down. This is not some deep-pockets business which can afford to defend a libel case or a court order compelling us to hand over any contact information we hold on individual posters. Nor do we want the stress and personal upheaval that doing so would bring into our lives.

    Nobody is saying that the use of PEDS has never/could never happen in rugby, and of course the issue can be discussed so long as people use some basic common sense. For example, feel free to cite published studies, or the dangers/risks that use of PEDs could pose, or even cases where individuals have actually been found guilty of, or publicly admitted to, such an offence, when that information is already in the public domain. But other than that, PLEASE DO NOT EVER use this forum to imply or accuse or allege that any player, group of players, individual, team etc is involved in taking PEDs. If this ever happens again, the first instance will result in a minimum four-week ban for the poster concerned. Any repeat instance of the same will result in the poster being banned permanently. If needs be, discussions will also be locked and/or threads deleted.

    This is not a desirable outcome, as it could mean interesting discussions having to be closed down and the loss of some regular and otherwise interesting members of the forum. However, we can't allow ourselves personally or the site to be put at risk. If people can't or aren't willing to comply with this, then this forum is not the place for them.
    Tis but a scratch.