A former Hawke's Bay Magpie is among five New Zealand premier men's club rugby players banned from participating in the code for doping offences.
Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) brought the allegations against Paratene Edwards and a New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee found, on November 26, he had committed the violations and imposed a four-year ban on former MAC player.
Barry Patterson QC, who chaired the committee comprising Dr Ian Murphy and Ben Castle, conducted a hearing via a phone conference on October 18 to consider DFSNZ allegations that Edwards had on two occasions, once in 2014 and once in 2015, bought prohibited substances and was in possession of those substances, and used or attempted to use them.
The prohibited substances were Sustanon, Dianabol and Clenbuterol, the decision said.
The substances are taken to build muscle mass and strength. Clenbuterol increases the body's ability to burn fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.
The former Hawke's Bay sevens winger was notified of the anti-doping violations in May this year but chose not to appear at the hearing.
The committee found he had committed the violations and imposed the four-year ban, backdated to September 21, 2017.
The ban took into account Edwards' timely admissions and the delay in proceedings.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the committee revealed Edwards had breached four sport anti-doping rules (SADR) in 2014 and 2015.
It accepted DFSNZ witness statements had supported the evidence tabled against Edwards.
That is, on October 12, 2014, he had placed an order for 50 10mg of Dianabol tablets and 10ml Sustanon from a website trading under the name of "NZ Clenbuterol".
On or about October 28 that year, Edwards repeated that order for Sustanon from the same site. The following day he completed the transactions, buying 50 10mg of Dianabol tablets and 2 10ml of Sustanon from the website.
On January 7-8, 2015, he had placed orders for 10ml to 20ml of the banned substances and purchased them again.
MAC president Anthony Morley said Edwards had not played rugby for the club since 2010.
"He is a good guy, he really is," said Morley, confirming his talent because he belonged to the Magpies' system in mid-2000s.
Edwards took no part in the application and didn't appear at the hearing. The committee concluded he was aware of the proceedings and had opted not to participate in it.
It heard DFSNZ had advised him of the alleged violations in a detailed letter on May 11 this year but he did not respond.
When a DFSNZ employee had contacted him that day, Edwards had responded: "Oh yeah, that was ages ago."
He then told her he did not have time for the hearing or to write letters as he had two businesses and five children.
Edwards had informed the employee he had two hip operations and did not play sport. He had not played in a decade and did not coach either.
"Just ban me — what will I get, three years?" Edwards had said.
The committee issued a provisional suspension order against him on September 21 this year and registrar Stuart Doig had advised him unless he filed a defence by October 19 his case would have to be dealt with in his absence. Again, he did not respond. Another request on November 15 got a similar silent treatment.
The committee heard Edwards was an experienced player for several years and had represented the province in senior men's sevens rugby.
It found the former New Zealand touch world cup-winning campaigner had details of payments from his bank account and instruction to forward the substances to his address in Hastings.
Morley said in 2010 Edwards was about to take the field for MAC against Tamatea but had torn his Achilles tendon during a warm up.
"That was the end of it in the first round of 2010 and I know that because I was the coach [of MAC] at that time and I have been since and he hasn't played for us or the club," he said.
Edwards had his first hip replacement in 2011 and then a second one late last year.
Morley said Edwards, whose great grandfather and namesake had established MAC club, was involved in a car crash about three months ago which had left him in hospital and later on crutches.
"He had a severe case of concussion," he said.
Morley told Hawke's Bay Today he had never had the need to question Edwards' character or honesty.
He also believed Edwards had held a Bay premier club record of seven tries in a game while representing MAC against former premier club Maraenui, set in the mid-2000s.
Hawke's Bay Rugby Union club development manager Gary Macdonald said their records showed no adults had been registered in the name of Paratene Edwards since 2004.
However, it was not uncommon for player to be registered under abbreviated names or nicknames.
"It's likely he's registered under another name," Macdonald said.
HB Today was unable to contact Edwards.
His four-year ban means he is prohibited from participating in any capacity in a competition or activity (other than authorised anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes) authorised or organised by any DFSNZ signatory or its member organisation, nationally or internationally.
Edwards is entitled to have the finding referred to a post-hearing review body.
DFSNZ also brought charges against club players Sam Barton (North Harbour), Henry Boyhan (Auckland), Shane Barry Laurence (Tasman) and Nathaniel Walker (Bay of Plenty) following a MedSafe investigation into the operation of the website Clenbuterol NZ in 2014 and 2015.
They were all banned for four years, bar former All Blacks Sevens rep Walker who got two.