Dop­ing bans bad for im­age of rugby

Sunday News - - RUGBY -

NEWZealand Rugby is con­fi­dent dop­ing is not sys­temic in the sport but ad­mits fu­ture breaches could po­ten­tially ‘‘darken the im­age of play­ers who have gone be­fore them in the black jer­sey’’.

Neil Sorensen, New Zealand Rugby’s gen­eral man­ager, said the is­sue could be ‘‘in­cred­i­bly dam­ag­ing’’ dur­ing an in­ter­view on New­stalk ZB yes­ter­day.

He was quizzed about the im­pact of dop­ing breaches fol­low­ing bans im­posed by the union’s ju­di­cial com­mit­tee to four New Zealand club play­ers, in­clud­ing for­mer Black Fern Zoey Berry and ex-New Zealand Sev­ens rep­re­sen­ta­tive Glen Robert­son.

Bans of be­tween 21 months and four years were handed to Manawatu’s best and fairest club player Rhys Ped­er­sen, Otago Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben Qauqau-Dodds, Berry and Robert­son – with the lat­ter two sus­pended for four years.

Berry and Robert­son ad­mit­ted they had had re­ceived drug ed­u­ca­tion while part of their na­tional squads.

Three of the trio were found guilty of buy­ing or us­ing Clen­buterol with Qauqau-Dodds found guilty of pos­ses­sion and use of Me­tan­dienone, an­other banned sub­stance.

Sorensen told New­stalk ZB that he be­lieved ‘‘all four of them knew it was wrong’’.

In a wide rang­ing in­ter­view, he said Drug Free Sport New Zealand had told NZR to ex­pect more dop­ing charges against Kiwi rugby play­ers.

‘‘It’s mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing. We knew it was com­ing as Drug Free Sport gave us a heads up some time ago that it was com­ing.

‘‘We’ve been told there are more [rugby play­ers] to fol­low.’’

Sorensen said NZR had not been told what level the play­ers were in­volved in be­cause the DFSNZ in­quiries were con­fi­den­tial.

‘‘We are pretty con­fi­dent – though I can’t say that with to­tal be­lief – we are not go­ing to be talk­ing about Su­per Rugby play­ers, All Blacks or Black Ferns.

‘‘Then again Zoey was a Black Fern back in 2012 and the [drug] ed­u­ca­tion that she re­ceived ob­vi­ously didn’t get through.’’

Sorensen con­ceded that it could be ‘‘in­cred­i­bly dam­ag­ing’’ to New Zealand rugby’s in­ter­na­tional me­dia im­age if a high pro­file player was in­volved in a dop­ing case.

‘‘If they put a pic­ture of Zoey in her Black Ferns uni­form with a head­line over­seas ‘women All Black busted for dop­ing’ it’s a ter­ri­ble story.

Sorensen said more bans – ‘‘and there’s go­ing to be to fol­low, un­for­tu­nately’’, also ‘‘dark­ens the im­age of play­ers who have gone be­fore them in the black jer­sey’’.

New Zealand Rugby does not have drug test­ing regimes for play­ers com­pet­ing be­low Mitre 10 Cup level.

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