The fiance of Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Goss has been suspended from playing rugby for two years after admitting to the possession and use (or attempted use) of a banned substance.
Conor Hirini is one of three club players banned from the game as part of the New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee's ongoing hearings of anti-doping allegations brought by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ).
Hirini was a registered club player in Horowhenua Kapiti when he purchased Clenbuterol in October 2014. Hirini admitted the possession and use (or attempted use) of prohibited substances, but told the Judicial Committee that he had disposed of the substances without using them.
Goss had no knowledge of the offense, her agent Kelly Evans said.
Evans told Stuff the couple had just started dating when the incident happened and were living in different cities at the time. She added Hirini has taken full responsibility for his mistake.
Goss and Hirini have been dating since 2014 and were engaged in Fiji in September 2016, shortly after the Ferns claimed the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
After considering submissions, the Committee agreed to a two-year suspension, with commencement backdated by 12 months to 9 October 2017 to take account of Hirini's timely admissions and the delays in the allegations being heard.
Last month, Goss was nominated for World Rugby's Women's Sevens Player of the Year, losing out to teammate Michaela Blyde.
She also made the shortlist in two categories of this year's New Zealand Rugby Awards - the Tom French Memorial Māori Player of the Year and the Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year.
Blake Ensor and Heyward Kuka were also suspended following a MedSafe investigation into the operation of the website NZ Clenbuterol in 2014 and 2015.
Otago club player Ensor admitted seven violations involving possession and use of Metandienone (Dianabol) and Clenbuterol in 2014, and possession of Metandienone and Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) in 2015.
DFSNZ had also alleged trafficking of Metandienone and Clenbuterol in 2014 and use of Metandienone and Tamoxifen in 2015. The Committee, however, accepted Ensor's evidence that the substances had been for personal use only and that the substances bought in 2015 had not been used. The trafficking allegations and allegations of use in 2015 were therefore dismissed by the Committee.
The Committee noted that as a club player, Ensor had not received anti-doping education and, because of injury, did not play in 2014 or the early stages of 2015, and therefore his participation would not have been effected by the use of the substances.
Although the Sports Anti-Doping Rules provide for a four-year suspension for violations occurring in 2015, the Committee accepted that Ensor's actions were not intentional, and imposed a two-year suspension, backdated by eight months on account of delay, to start from 9 December 2017.
Bay of Plenty club player and coach Heywood Kuka admitted the four counts of use, or attempted use, and possession of Trenbolone Enanthate in 2014 and 2015, a prohibited substance under the Sports Anti-Doping Rules.
Kuka and DFSNZ waived the right to a hearing and instead made joint submissions on an appropriate sanction.
Taking into account that two of the offences would not have been discovered had it not been for Kuka's own admissions, and the delay in bringing the allegations forward, the Committee agreed to impose a ban of three years, backdated to start from 1 December 2017.