ENGLAND full-back Delon Armitage has been handed an eight-week ban by the Rugby Football Union and is set to miss the entire Six Nations campaign as a result.
The London Irish star was found to have pushed and used threatening and / or abusive and obscene language towards a doping control officer by an RFU disciplinary hearing held in London yesterday evening.
The 27-year-old (right) pleaded not guilty to the offence, which took place following the last-minute defeat against Bath on New Year’s Day, but was suspended until March 17.
RFU disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett, who chaired the panel, said: “His behaviour was completely unacceptable. It brought discredit on himself and his club and failed to uphold one of the core values of the game – respect.
“Doping control officers should expect to carry out their important work without fear of abuse.
“We took into account that it was not a violent push but more of a brush past and that was accepted by the doping control officer.
“We took the offences as a whole and, in line with the sanctions for abuse of match officials, we decided that a low end entry point of 12 weeks was appropriate.
“This was reduced to eight weeks on account of his remorse, his letter of apology to the doping control officer and his relatively good record.”
Armitage, who lost his place in the England side to Ben Foden last season, will be available for the final match of the tournament against Ireland on 19 March, but his lack of match practice is likely to mean he is likely to miss out altogether as England step up their preparations ahead of the World Cup.
It is a fresh blow to Johnson, who is already missing Lewis Moody, Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood for at least the first month of the Six Nations.