Kiwis come down hard on drug cheats
NEWS: Two New Zealand representatives are among four players suspended for doping offences, NZ Rugby said in a statement.
Zoe Berry played one Test for the Black Ferns against England in 2012, and Glen Robertson turned out for the New Zealand Under-20 side in 2010 and 2011 and is a former member of the New Zealand Sevens squad.
Both were suspended for four years.
The two others, Ben Qauqau-Dodds and Rhys Pedersen, both played at senior club level.
Qauqau-Dodds is listed as the grandson of a former Fiji representative, while Pedersen was voted the "best and fairest" club player in Manawatu province last year.
Qauqau-Dodds received a two-year ban and Pedersen was suspended for 21 months.
"What this investigation has revealed is that there is a lot of ignorance in our community game on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs," New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said.
"What has happened to these four rugby players serves as a reminder that all athletes have to be very careful about what they put into their bodies."
Berry, Pedersen, and Robertson were accused of possessing and in some cases the use or attempted use of Clenbuterol, a stimulant. Qauqau-Dodds was charged with possession and use or attempted use of anabolic steroid Metandienone.
They all pleaded guilty to at least one of the alleged offences.
The charges were laid by Drug Free Sport New Zealand, which enforces World Anti-Doping Agency codes, and follows an investigation into the website Clenbuterol NZ.
It identified a number of athletes from a range of sporting codes as making purchases from the website in 2014 and 2015.
Full statement by New Zealand Rugby:
Berry, Pedersen, and Robertson have been banned from playing rugby for the possession and, in some cases, use or attempted use of Clenbuterol and Qauqau-Dodds has been banned for the possession and use or attempted use of Metandienone.
Clenbuterol and Metandienone are both prohibited substances under the NZ Sports Anti-Doping Rules.
All athletes pleaded guilty to at least one of the offences alleged.
The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has ordered the suspension of Berry for four years commencing on 31 July 2017, Pedersen for 21 months from 1 January 2017, Robertson for four years from 3 February 2017 and Qauqau-Dodds for two years commencing on 31 July 2017. All four athletes were playing club rugby at the time of the offending.
The charges were brought against the rugby players by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) following their investigation which was initiated by Medsafe into the operation of the website Clenbuterol NZ. It identified a number of athletes from a range of sporting codes, as having made purchases from the website in 2014 and 2015.
New Zealand Rugby's General Manager of Rugby, Neil Sorensen, said it was disappointing rugby players had been involved in purchasing banned substances.
"What has happened to these four rugby players serves as a reminder that all athletes have to be very careful about what they put into their bodies.
"In partnership with the Rugby Players Association (RPA) and DFSNZ we have developed and delivered comprehensive anti doping education programmes but these are primarily aimed at high performance, professional players. What this investigation has revealed is that there is a lot of ignorance in our community game on the issue of performance enhancing drugs.
"We will continue to work with Sport NZ, DFSNZ and the RPA to keep rugby and all sports in New Zealand as clean as possible,” said Sorensen."