Armitage ban rules him out for England

England international Delon Armitage will miss virtually the entire RBS 6 Nations after receiving an eight-week ban for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game.

Armitage was found to have pushed and used threatening and/or abusive and obscene language towards a doping control officer by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing held in London last night.

The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty but was suspended until March 17 by the panel chaired by the RFU's disciplinary officer Judge Jeff Blackett.

The incident took place during a routine drugs test immediately after London Irish's 25-24 Aviva Premiership defeat by Bath on New Year's Day.

Judge Blackett 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 and be treated with respect at all times. 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 will be banned for all but one of England's Six Nations matches – the tournament finale against Ireland on March 19.

It is a fresh blow to England manager Martin Johnson, who is already missing Lewis Moody, Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes and Dave Attwood for at least the first month of the competition.