John Hardie’s suspension by Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh is for the alleged use of cocaine. The 29-year-old has not failed a drugs test, but was suspended pending an inquiry after a concerned individual got in touch with Murrayfield to report his alleged behaviour, The Scotsman understands.
No timescale has been put on the length of the suspension, which will be determined by how quickly information is revealed by the investigation.
The openside flanker will not be in the Scotland squad for the Autumn Tests which will now be announced tomorrow rather than today, having been postponed by 24 hours yesterday to allow head coach Gregor Townsend more time to gather information on several players who picked up knocks while in action over the weekend.
Hardie, who is thought to have had an initial conversation with officials before his suspension was announced on Friday, has won 16 caps since arriving here shortly before the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Born in New Zealand, he qualifies for Scotland through a grandmother from Fife.
The ban was announced in a terse statement from the SRU. “Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby confirm Scotland international and Edinburgh forward, John Hardie, has been suspended from duty pending an internal investigation,” the statement read. “As a result the player will not be available for selection for Edinburgh, or the Scotland national team. It is normal practice with such matters that we are unable to comment further given the nature of the investigation.”
The Edinburgh squad, who were already in Moscow for Saturday’s Challenge Cup tie with Krasny Yar, were told of Hardie’s suspension around the time it was announced, having apparently known nothing about it beforehand. They got a flight back to the capital soon after their 73-14 win over the Russian club.
While it may be some time before the outcome of the Hardie ban is known, a conclusion to the separate inquiry into an incident involving Edinburgh captain Magnus Bradbury is expected this week.
The 22-year-old, who like Hardie is a back-row forward, was suspended ten days ago following an incident on a night out in Edinburgh city centre in which he sustained a head injury.
Bradbury has now been suspended for two games, having first missed out on the win over London Irish, also in the Challenge Cup, a week past Saturday. It is understood that he would have been unfit to play in either match in any case because of his injury, and Edinburgh have yet to say how long it will be before he is fit to resume training.
Although the suspension could be ended today – by either a ruling that Bradbury was not guilty of any disciplinary breach or a decision that a two-game ban was sufficient punishment – the odds are that it will be another couple of weeks before the player is healthy enough to be selected.
Edinburgh are away to Benetton this Saturday in the Pro14, then are at home to the Ospreys in the same competition seven days later.