Archie Bruce inquest hears Batley Bulldogs player had ‘toxic’ level of painkiller in his body

BATLEY BULLDOGS have created a code of conduct for their players following the death of hooker Archie Bruce after a match in August 2019. 

An inquest heard the 20-year-old had more than twice the “toxic” level of a prescription-only painkiller in his system when he died in a French hotel room hours after making his debut in the Championship match at Toulouse and following a team night out. 

A post-mortem examination found that Bruce, from Dewsbury, who played as a substitute as a trial player, died as a result of asphyxiation, with the inquest concluding an accidental cause. 

The inquest heard a “very high concentration” of tramadol was found in his body while a toxicology report discovered the presence of alcohol and cocaine as well as another painkiller only available in the UK via prescription. 

The level of tramadol alone was more than double that considered toxic and potentially fatal, Dr Faisal Ali told Bradford Coroner’s Court. 

The RFL banned the in-competition use of tramadol from January 1 of this year. 

Bruce’s family said he was in good health and did not take drugs, adding in a statement: “Having just played his professional debut, Archie was excited, impressionable, vulnerable and wanting to fit in.”

The inquest was told the use of tramadol to treat muscle soreness and on nights out to improve the feeling they got when drinking alcohol was common among Batley players at that time. Some also used cocaine. 

The club’s management was reported to be unaware of the drug use, while Chairman Kevin Nicholas said the squad had to complete RFL educational modules on drug use before they could play. 

Batley have since created a code of conduct for their players, and Bruce’s family have called for the RFL and member clubs to introduce “a robust code of conduct with enhanced safeguarding”.

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