New Zealand cyclist Karl Murray faces one of the longest bans handed down to a New Zealand athlete after being found guilty of multiple doping violations.
Murray, already serving a two-year ban, will now serve an eight-year ban that will carry through to 2025, a decision released by the New Zealand Sports Tribunal today said.
"The presumptive period of ineligibility for the intentional use of a non-specified substance is four years," the ruling released today said. "DFSNZ's position was the New Caledonian violation was Mr Murray's first violation and the Tour of Northland a second violation. It was accepted that coaching while banned did not count in determining the applicable sanction. The sanction for a second violation is 'twice the period of eligibility', therefore Mr Murray was subject to an eight year period of ineligibility."
The case against Murray has been a long and winding one for Drug Free Sport New Zealand and will be seen as a big win for the organisation, which has been engaged in litigation with the cyclist for several years.
DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson says Mr Murray's track record of positive tests and coaching while banned shows an arrogant disregard for clean sport, his competitors and the anti-doping rules.
"The [rules] are there to protect honest athletes and Mr Murray's appalling track record speaks for itself," Paterson said.
"This eight-year ban for multiple violations casts a shadow over the thousands of clean Kiwi cyclists who compete every year and in the spirit of sport.
"Despite having served a previous ban, Mr Murray has been found again to have taken a prohibited substance, in this instance clenbuterol, at the time he was competing against other athletes."
The saga began in 2013 when Murray, a road cyclist and Cycling New Zealand member, tested positive for nandrolone and testosterone while competing in an event in New Caledonia. He was subsequently banned from competing anywhere for two years by the New Caledonia Anti-Doping Commission.
Murray claimed the positive was the result of contamination or mislabelling of supplements he was taking, including Hydroxycut Hardcore X.
The UCI recognised the ban in May 2015 and it was applied in New Zealand.
Under appeal by DFSNZ, the Court of Arbitration for Sport later found that Murray had broken the rules by coaching two young athletes while serving his ban, after a Sports Tribunal panel had originally cleared him.
His two-year penalty was re-started in late 2017.
The CAS ruling also enabled Drug Free Sport NZ to pursue another case against Murray, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid clenbuterol during the Tour of Northland in March 2017.
Murray claimed he knew he would be tested after returning so he would have been stupid to cheat. In an emailed statement to sportsintegrityinitiative.com, he last year wrote: "I have never knowingly taken any prohibited substances throughout my cycling career and at this stage of my career, when I am trying to spend my time coaching and running my bike shop, I would have no reason to do so.
"In my view, the Drug Free Sport team that undertook the test did not follow the proper procedures to do so. At the Tribunal hearing, the evidence given for Drug Free Sport was inconsistent on this matter. Nevertheless, the Tribunal has found that there were no material flaws in the process and have upheld the alleged anti-doping violation."
The claims failed to carry much weight in the hearing.
Cycling New Zealand CEO Andrew Matheson said he stood by comments he made regarding Murray last year. While the individual is largely outside of his organisation, he recognised the sport has again been let down by his actions.
"We have a zero tolerance policy to anyone who waivers in the area of doping, and for this to happen not once, but twice by an amateur age-group rider is flabbergasting," Matheson said.
"He has no place in our sport and we therefore completely endorse the decision of the Sports Tribunal and also the efforts of Drug Free Sport New Zealand in this matter."
Only powerlifter Rodney Newman (lifetime) and domestic league player Vince Whare (10 years) are currently serving longer bans than that handed down to Murray.
The eight-year sanction falls between the four-year ban Murray's representatives were seeking and the lifetime ban Drug free Sport NZ were chasing.
As Murray runs an Auckland bike shop and coaching business, he said the ban would have a significant effect on his future livelihood.