International ice hockey playing brothers Lachlan and Mitchell Frear have been banned for two years after buying prohibited steroid clenbuterol.

They are the first cases heard following the revelation in the Weekend Herald that more than 100 athletes registered with national sporting organisations had been caught illegally purchasing steroids from the website clenbuterol.co.nz.

The website's owner Joshua Francis Townshend was jailed for two years after a Medsafe investigation.

More than 80 of the athletes are expected to face either the New Zealand Sports Tribunal or Rugby Judiciary.

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80 New Zealand athletes suspected in illegal steroid probe

Mitchell Frear, who has been to three world championships with the national ice hockey team, was found to have purchased a 10ml bottle of clenbuterol spray in October 2014. Younger brother Lachlan, who has been part of the national under-20 squad, was found to have made two purchases of the same product, in November 2014 and January 2015.

In a statement New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation (NZIHF) President Günther Birgel said both players were naive.

"The NZIHF strongly supports DFSNZ and is a signatory to World Anti-Doping Agency. All players who represent New Zealand sign a contract agreeing not to use illegal or body enhancing substances," Birgel said.

"In this case both young players have been naïve in believing that the product purchased was a fat burning product only. Both young men deeply regret not having checked with relevant experts prior to their purchasing decision and have accepted the decision of the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.

"This will serve as a sharp lesson for all of our athletes. From a NZIHF stance, I hope that this will be the only time that our sport is involved in this issue. This matter serves as a reminder to all participants in ice hockey in New Zealand to be vigilant when considering any such substance."

Following Drug Free Sport New Zealand's investigation of the clenbuterol.co.nz's client base, anti-doping rules violation proceedings are started against the brothers in September this year.

Both responded in writing admitting the purchase of clenbuterol but denying use.

In submissions to the tribunal, the brothers contended they had bought the product only as a means of shedding weight. Neither had any intentional of cheating to gain an advantage in sport.

The Frears claimed they were unaware the purchase was illegal, which is why they used their own names and addresses when purchasing.

 Mitchel Frear of New Zealand fights for the puck with Thomas Powell of Australia during the match between Australia and New Zealand as part of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. Photo / Getty
Mitchel Frear of New Zealand fights for the puck with Thomas Powell of Australia during the match between Australia and New Zealand as part of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. Photo / Getty

The tribunal was critical of DFSNZ's delay in initiating proceedings and therefore backdated the two-year ban to January 1, 2017.

The Herald revealed that more than 100 athletes are being investigated over links to the website, in what amounts to an unprecedented sweep. More than 80 are expected to face tribunals, with a range of sanctions possible.

Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin and former Wada director-general David Howman both described it as a "masive wake-up call" for New Zealand sport.

It is understood more than 40 per cent of the cases involve rugby players, including some schoolboy players, raising concerns about the professionalisation of the sport at that level.