A New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has completed three further anti-doping hearings resulting in all players receiving a two-year ban from playing rugby for the possession and use or attempted use of Prohibited Substances.
The charges were brought against Brandyn Laursen, Tukiterangi Raimona and Lionel Skipwith by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) following an investigation initiated by MedSafe into the operation of the website Clenbuterol New Zealand.
The Judicial Committee found that Laursen had been in possession, used or attempted to use the anabolic agent, Clenbuterol. Although the offences were committed in 2014 and 2015, he was only notified by Drug Free Sport NZ of the offending in March 2018. He immediately admitted the doping violations.
The Committee accepted Laursen's submissions that he had taken the banned substance to aid off-season weight-loss and the violations were not intentional. The delay in notification plus his early admission entitled him to a discount on his sanction. He was banned from two years, backdated to 4 June 2017.
The Judicial Committee found that Raimona had been in possession, used or attempted to use the banned anabolic agent dianabol (metandienone) in January and February 2015. Ramona's offences were committed in 2015, and he was notified by Drug Free Sport NZ of the allegation in late 2017.
Raimona had previously received education from DFSNZ. He had stopped playing rugby in June 2014 after injury. Raimona submitted that he thought he was no longer bound by the Sports Anti-doping Regulations as he was not a registered player and at that time had no intention of returning to play rugby. He admitted taking dianabol to help him better cope with the demands of the manual work and gym routine he had at the time.
Raimona played a sevens match in late February and then decided to return to rugby in March 2015. The Committee accepted his submission regarding unintentional offending but found that because he ultimately returned to play rugby later that year, the Sports Anti-doping Regulations applied to him retrospectively. The Committee suspended him for two years, backdated to 28 May 2017.
In Skipwith's case, he submitted that he did not know that Clenbuterol was a banned substance as he was a club rugby player and had not received any education on the anti-doping regime. The Committee accepted his explanation that he took the substance in early 2015 as part of a fat burning and weight loss regime that he came across from his friends at the local fitness centre. The Committee found his breach of the regulations was unintentional, and he was suspended for two years backdated to 26th September 2017.