Zoe Berry, Rhys Pedersen, Glen Robertson and Ben Qauqau-Dodds have been suspended for doping offences by The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee.
Berry, Pedersen, and Robertson have been banned from playing rugby for the possession and, in some cases, use or attempted use of Clenbuterol and Qauqau-Dodds has been banned for the possession and use or attempted use of Metandienone.
Clenbuterol and Metandienone are both prohibited substances under the NZ Sports Anti-Doping Rules.
All athletes pleaded guilty to at least one of the offences alleged.
The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has ordered the suspension of Berry for four years commencing on 31 July 2017, Pedersen for 21 months from 1 January 2017, Robertson for four years from 3 February 2017 and Qauqau-Dodds for two years commencing on 31 July 2017. All four athletes were playing club rugby at the time of the offending.
The charges were brought against the rugby players by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) following their investigation which was initiated by Medsafe into the operation of the website Clenbuterol NZ. It identified a number of athletes from a range of sporting codes, as having made purchases from the website in 2014 and 2015.
New Zealand Rugby’s General Manager of Rugby, Neil Sorensen, said it was disappointing rugby players had been involved in purchasing banned substances.
“What has happened to these four rugby players serves as a reminder that all athletes have to be very careful about what they put into their bodies.
“In partnership with the Rugby Players Association (RPA) and DFSNZ we have developed and delivered comprehensive anti doping education programmes but these are primarily aimed at high performance, professional players. What this investigation has revealed is that there is a lot of ignorance in our community game on the issue of performance enhancing drugs.
“We will continue to work with Sport NZ, DFSNZ and the RPA to keep rugby and all sports in New Zealand as clean as possible,” said Sorensen.