Web­site records drug cheats

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

Many of the 100 or more ath­letes who bought il­le­gal per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs from a web­site run by a Christchurch man have no idea they could be banned from play­ing.

The ath­letes were iden­ti­fied as po­ten­tial drug cheats in the fall­out from Clen­buterol NZ – a web­site run by Joshua Town­shend that sold a fat-strip­ping de­con­ges­tant and a host of an­abolic steroids. Town­shend was jailed in May 2017 for 129 of­fences un­der the Medicines Act. He was re­leased from prison last week. In 2014 and 2015, his web­site cleared more than $350,000 in sales of per­for­mance and im­age-en­hanc­ing drugs (PIEDs).

Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) ex­am­ined his com­puter records to com­pile a list of ath­letes who bought drugs and may have breached their sport’s an­ti­dop­ing rules.

‘‘To have iden­ti­fied about 100 ath­letes us­ing a web­site selling these sub­stances is ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing to us at DFSNZ, and should also be of great con­cern to the wider sport­ing com­mu­nity,’’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Pater­son said.

Eleven cases have been heard by the Sports Tri­bunal or the New Zealand Rugby Union ju­di­cial com­mit­tee so far.

Ath­letes in­clud­ing for­mer Waikato and New Zealand Sev­ens player Glen Robert­son, for­mer Black Fern Zoey Berry and Queen­stown brothers Mitchell and Lach­lan Frear, both New Zealand ice hockey rep­re­sen­ta­tives, have been banned for be­tween 21 months and four years.

The Clen­buterol NZ bust is so big, cases are be­ing heard in tranches. Some ath­letes will not have been no­ti­fied yet that they face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

‘‘Many peo­ple won’t know [they may have been caught],’’ Christchurch lawyer Wil­lie Hamil­ton, a mem­ber of the tri­bunal’s le­gal as­sis­tance panel, said.

Most of the ath­letes iden­ti­fied are am­a­teurs, likely un­aware they were even sub­ject to their sport’s anti-dop­ing rules.

‘‘I’ve talked to mates of mine who are club rugby play­ers and a lot of them are very sur­prised that they couldn’t take a per­for­mance en­hancer,’’ Hamil­ton said.

‘‘They say: I’m just a club rugby player, why are they wor­ried about me?

‘‘They’re wor­ried about ev­ery­one.

‘‘I’ve had a guy [talk to] me who was a club rugby league player in Queen­stown who bought some stuff, re­ally to just try and get big­ger in the gym, and they went af­ter him. It doesn’t mat­ter what level.

‘‘If you’re a mem­ber of a na­tional sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion or af­fil­i­ated, it’s a re­ally wide [scope].’’

One ath­lete who bought steroids from Town­shend’s web­site told Stuff he ‘‘didn’t put too much em­pha­sis on if it was le­gal or not le­gal’’. The man, who did not want to be named, said he was not play­ing sport at the time.

Hamil­ton said DFSNZ’s anti-dop­ing rules had a wide in­ter­pre­ta­tion. ‘‘It seems that the in­tended read­ing of the [rules] is that as long as you are a mem­ber at the time they bring the pros­e­cu­tion ... you’re un­der the rules.’’

Christchurch man Josh Town­shend has spent time in jail.

Sports Tri­bunal Le­gal As­sis­tance Panel mem­ber Wil­lie Hamil­ton

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