The International Rugby Board has confirmed that New Zealand women’s Sevens player Lavinia Gould has been suspended for two years for an anti-doping offence.
The 32-year-old from Wellington underwent an in-competition urine test on 1 December last following a match between New Zealand and South Africa at the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series event in Dubai.
Her sample contained methylhexaneamine, which is listed in Section 6.b of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances.
At an IRB Judicial Committee hearing which was held on 9 September (by teleconference), the player accepted that she had committed an anti-doping rule violation.
In considering all aspects of the case, the committee decided to impose a two-year suspension, the standard minimum sanction in accordance with the IRB regulations and the WADA Code. Given the player had been provisionally suspended since 11 January 2013, the suspension will run until midnight on 10 January 2015.
Read the full written judgement here.
An IRB spokesman said: “The IRB operates a zero-tolerance policy on doping. Players are solely responsible for any prohibited substance found in their body. This decision sends a clear message to all players on the risks of taking a banned substance.”
“The IRB has in place a comprehensive education programme which continues to evolve on www.keeprugbyclean.com. The latest e-learning programme was launched in June of this year and highlights the dangers and consequences of doping.”
The case highlights the inherent dangers of supplement use and that players need to exercise extreme caution regarding the use of any dietary supplement. No guarantee can be given that any particular supplement, including vitamins, minerals, ergogenic aids or herbal remedies are totally free from prohibited substances.
New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew said: “We are very disappointed this has occurred. We have invested heavily in education to ensure players understand their obligations and the risks around taking supplements. This includes regular briefings from our medical staff and outside professionals as well as other support.”
“We follow best practice as guided by Drug Free Sport New Zealand and regularly review our processes to ensure players are getting the advice they need to make informed decisions. There is a real lesson here for all players even when taking a supplement; they must take care as the consequences for their playing career can be severe.”
The IRB undertook more than 1,542 in and out-of-competition controls across tournaments and events in 2012, including the HSBC Sevens World Series, Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifiers, men's and women's Tests and age-grade Rugby.
In that time, there were 21 anti-doping cases, equating to 1.36 per cent of the IRB's entire programme. The IRB also remains committed to blood testing across its portfolio of events and out of competition and has conducted 482 tests since debuting at Rugby World Cup 2007 in France.
The IRB also focused on increased educational programmes in 2012, including the delivery of Keep Rugby Clean awareness campaigns at IRB age-grade and Sevens events to more than 1,000 players during the year, an initiative that has continued through 2013.
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