Richards had 'central control' of Quins' fake blood scandal

DEAN RICHARDS&rsquo; reputation as one of rugby&rsquo;s most respected coaches lay in tatters today after the damning verdict on the Harlequins fake blood scandal directed the blame firmly on his shoulders.<br /><br />In a written judgement of his European Rugby Cup appeal hearing, the Quins&rsquo; former rugby director was described as the &ldquo;directing mind&rdquo; in the sorry episode and having &ldquo;central control&rdquo; of the whole operation.<br /><br />The Quins were fined &euro;300,000 after winger Tom Williams admitted taking fake blood capsule to force a late substitution against Leinster last season. Williams was hit with a four-month suspension while orchestrator Richards was banned for three years.<br /><br />The crushing revelations revealed:<br /><br /><strong>&bull;</strong> Richards had central control over everything that happened in relation to the fabrication of the blood injury and the subsequent cover-up.<br /><br /><strong>&bull;</strong> He had long since recruited physiotherapist Steph Brennan as his willing lieutenant.<br /><br /><strong>&bull;</strong> Until August 3, Richards denied everything to everyone at Quins, apart from Williams, Brennan and club doctor Wendy Chapman.<br /><br /><strong>&bull;</strong> Richards said he had faked, or attempted to fake, blood injuries a few times before.<br /><br /><strong>&bull;</strong> Richards&rsquo; solicitor said his client&rsquo;s reputation had been &ldquo;burnt to a cinder&rdquo;.<br /><br />Harlequins, however, received some welcome good news last night after being informed they had avoided expulsion from the Heineken Cup.<br /><br />Satisfied with the severity of the penalties already issued, ERC directors said they &ldquo;no reason to interfere&rdquo; with the club&rsquo;s participation.