• Kyodo

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A player for Japan Top League club Hino Red Dolphins has been arrested on suspicion of illegal use of drugs involving cocaine, the Japan Rugby Football Union said Thursday.

According to the club, which has announced the indefinite suspension of all team activities, the arrested player is 29-year-old New Zealander Joel Everson.

The forward previously played for New Zealand provincial sides Canterbury and Southland.

He had not played in any of the Red Dolphins’ six games this season.

According to police, Everson was walking and behaving in an unusual manner around 4:30 a.m. in the central Tokyo district of Roppongi. The police forcibly took a urine sample after Everson refused a voluntary urinalysis and discovered he had been using cocaine.

His arrest follows the conviction last summer of two players from Top League club Toyota Verblitz for illegal drug possession.

“I am very sorry the Japan Rugby Top League Hino Red Dolphins player has been arrested for allegedly using illegal drugs,” JRFU President Shigetaka Mori said.

“We have an integrity officer to take charge of compliance among the 16 Top League teams and deal with issues of integrity. We have communicated the importance of compliance, but regret such a problem has occurred again.”

The Top League has not played any games since Feb. 23 as the league temporarily shut down to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak.

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