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Bloodgate: were the punishments fair?
  1. Lynley Anderson
  1. Correspondence to Lynley Anderson, Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9001, New Zealand; lynley.anderson{at}

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The Bloodgate saga is finally being resolved for the two medical team members involved (the doctor was given a warning, while the physiotherapist was initially struck off). But were the differences in punishments justified, and by focusing on the individuals, are we missing the real problem?

The term Bloodgate was given to events that occurred in April 2009 when, during a rugby match between Leinster and Harlequins, a Harlequins player (Tom Williams) faked a blood injury in order to be replaced by a specialist kicker in an attempt to win the match. The physiotherapist and doctor were both closely involved in the scam. At the behest of the coach, the physiotherapist (appointed England Rugby team physiotherapist) gave the blood capsule to Williams.1 The doctor later cut the inside of Williams' mouth to ‘demonstrate a real injury’.2 Their actions were brought to the attention of their respective professional bodies. In August 2010, Dr Wendy Chapman was given a warning by the General Medical Council (GMC) (listed on her registration).2 In September 2010, the Health Professions Council (HPC) struck off physiotherapist Stephen Brennan.3 This decision was …

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  • Lynley Anderson is a Senior Lecturer at the Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand. She has written a number of articles on ethics and sports medicine and was the primary author of the current code of ethics of the Australasian College of Sports Physicians.

  • Competing interests None

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.