10th January 2018

Four New Zealand rugby players sanctioned for doping

Four New Zealand rugby union players were sanctioned for doping at the end of last year, decisions published by New Zealand Rugby have revealed. The players all bought prohibited substances from the Clenbuterol NZ website, the owner of which was jailed last year. A Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) investigation found that over 100 athletes had bought prohibited substances from the website.

Former Black Fern (women’s national team) player Zoe Berry has been sanctioned with a four year ban for possession and use of clenbuterol (PDF below). The New Zealand Rugby Union Judicial Committee (NZRUJC) did not accept Berry’s explanation that she had bought the clenbuterol after not intending to play rugby again, and had thrown away the clenbuterol after getting a friend to taste it, who confirmed that it was bad quality. The friend was not named. As there was a delay of three years between the infraction and notification of proceedings against Berry, the NZRUJC also discounted a reduction in her ban for timely admission.

Former Waikato player Glen Robertson was sanctioned with a four year ban for the same offence (PDF below). He did not take legal advice or file statements or submissions in support of his case, arguing that ‘if you do the crime you take the punishment’. He emailed a statement arguing that he had taken clenbuterol to lose weight, as he was no longer playing rugby so did not intend to enhance his performance.

Former Manawatu player Rhys Pedersen was sanctioned with a 21 month ban for the same offence (PDF below). In this case, the NZRUJC accepted Pedersen’s evidence that he had stopped playing rugby following a series of concussions and anxiety and depression issues. Pedersen’s sister testified that he had used a first bottle of clenbuterol, but a second and third bottle had been purchased for her.

Finally, former New Zealand U17 player Ben Qauqau-Dodds admitted possession of, and use or attempted use of metandienone. Qauqau-Dodds ordered Dianabol from Clenbuterol NZ on 8 May 2014, which he admitted using. The player argued that a further order was thrown away. As the sanction was committed prior to the introduction of the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code, he has been sanctioned with a two year ban.

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