1st March 2019

Three more New Zealand rugby players sanctioned

Two more rugby union players have been sanctioned as a result of investigations into former customers of the Clenbuterol NZ internet site, taking the total to 31 athletes sanctioned, 25 of which are rugby players (23 Union, two League). Separately, the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand (STNZ) announced that it had sanctioned a rugby league player with a seven month ban, after he returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for a metabolite of cannabis.

Clenbuterol NZ was shut down in May 2017 and its owner jailed for two years. Josh Townshend admitting 129 breaches of New Zealand’s Medicines Act 1981, including possession, advertising and sale of anabolic steroids, clenbuterol, and related medicines for sports performance and image enhancement.

Chris Johnston admitted that he had purchased 20mm of clenbuterol from the Clenbuterol NZ internet site on 22 September 2014, but argued that it was for his wife, who intended to use it to lose weight. In addition, he argued that neither he nor his wife had used the clenbuterol due to the condition it was in when it arrived. Although Johnston was not able to offer any proof for his arguments, the panel agreed that it was appropriate to backdate his ban to 9 October (click here for a PDF of the decision).

Blake Roff also admitted purchasing 10mm of clenbuterol in December 2014, but denied using it. He argued that he intended to use the substance to relieve asthma symptoms. However, as he had participated in rugby after his provisional suspension on 29 November 2018, he accepted that this disqualified him from any further backdating. Click here for a PDF of the decision.

Rugby League player Samuel Henry was sanctioned with a seven month ban after recording a concentration of a cannabis metabolite in urine at above the level permitted in competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, following a 6 October 2018 test. Henry accepted the charge, and argued that he used cannabis after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) had previously argued that the sanction should be reduced if Henry could establish no significant fault for his AAF by showing that the context of use was unrelated to sport performance. The STNZ agreed that he had done this, and reduced a two year sanction to seven months. Click here for a PDF of the decision.

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