Four New Zealand rugby players banned after investigation into anti-doping offences

Anti-doping, Rugby, All Blacks
Glen Robertson in action for Waikato in 2012. Photo credit: Getty

The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has announced the suspensions of four players in regards to anti-doping offences.

Zoe Berry, Rhys Pedersen and Glen Robertson have been banned from playing rugby for the possession and, in some cases, use or attempted use of Clenbuterol, while Ben 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. 

Berry is a former Black Fern, while Robertson and Pederson have played provincial rugby for Waikato (Robertson) and Pederson (Manawatu) respectively.

Qauqau-Dodds plays club rugby in Otago.

All athletes pleaded guilty to at least one of the offences alleged.

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," he said.

"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.

The suspension lengths are as follows;

  • Zoe Berry - Four years commencing July 31 2017
  • Rhys Pederson - 21 months commencing January 1 2017
  • Glen Robertson - Four years commencing February 3 2017
  • Ben Qaugau-Dodds - Two years commencing July 31 2017