Club cricketer Chris Ware has become the latest sportsman to receive a ban after he was caught purchasing illegal steroids off defunct website clenbuterol.co.nz.
Ware purchased clenbuterol from the website in 2014 and 2015, breaching anti-doping rules. His two-year ban from the New Zealand Sports Tribunal has been backdated to January 1, 2017.
He is the fifth case to arise out of Medsafe's investigation into an online steroid supplier called NZ Clenbuterol. It's owner, Joshua Townshend, was sentenced to two years' jail after pleading guilty to 129 offences under the Medicines Act.
Medsafe passed their data to Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ), who found more than 100 registered sportsmen and women across a range of sports and levels had potentially committed anti-doping rules violations. It is expected around 80 will have cases heard by either the Sports Tribunal or Rugby Judiciary.
In submissions, Ware, who now lives in the United Kingdom, said he used clenbuterol to lose weight, not to enhance performance.
Ware has never played first-class cricket, never been part of a high-performance or drug education programme, nor been drug tested for sport.
A left-arm bowler, Ware has played representative cricket and last year signed to for Astley & Tyldesley CC in the Greater Manchester Cricket League.
The Tribunal accepted Ware's violation was not intentional and therefore the presumptive two-year period of ineligibility applied. Ware accepted responsibility for significant fault.
The Tribunal also urged DFSNZ and national sports organisations to initiate a
"greater degree of drug education at all levels of competitive sport". This is in anticipation of the Tribunal hearing many more similar cases over the coming months.
Sport New Zealand CEO Peter Miskimmin described the string of potential cases as "a massive wake-up call" for the country.
While the cases feature a range of sports, but it is understood that rugby players make up a significant portion – more than 40 per cent – of who now face potential sanctions.
The Rugby Judiciary banned Manawatu club player Adam Jowsey for two years in November 2016, but has yet to made a ruling on the next wave of cases. A spokeswoman for New Zealand Rugby said she was not expecting any decisions until the New Year.
No All Blacks or Olympians are among those caught in the sting, but it is understood some school-age athletes are.