New Zealand club player suspended for drug trafficking

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Zealand Rugby has banned a former club player for six years, for using and trafficking steroids during his career.

Andrew Leicester Burne, a former Johnsonville player and Wellington Maori team representative admitted to using, possessing and trafficking the drugs - three violations of the Sports Anti-Doping rules.

Burne, then 21, was the subject of a police investigation in 2013 and pleaded guilty to the sale and distribution of prescription medication including steroids and the court recorded no conviction.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand took the case to the NZRU judicial committee, provisionally suspending Burnefrom December 23 last year.

The committee heard Burne was 'duped' into becoming involved in the distribution of steroids by a group of friends at his gym, after initially using the drugs to bulk himself up.

New Zealand Rugby general manager Neil Sorensen said the ban sent a strong message to players across the code.

“This ban sends a very clear message – banned substances, doping, illegal drugs, steroids – whatever label you want to give it – they’re not part of rugby or any sport in New Zealand," he said.

“We’re gutted for the clubs, and the unions and all those club players who have been tarnished by this young man’s poor judgement.  We know the vast, vast majority of players work hard to juggle work, training and life – to earn their time on the field, and they do it without cheating.”

“We work hard to ensure that the game is clean, at all levels and so tough responses to anti-doping violations are an important part of enforcing that message.  This is a clear case in point – if you cheat, the consequences are severe and could ruin your rugby career as well as damaging your health.”

“We will not accept doping at any level within our sport, and we will work with DFSNZ to identify and prosecute anyone who violates these regulations.”