Two Queenstown ice-hockey-playing brothers have been banned from their sport for attempting to buy a drug they never received, paid less than a combined $100 for, and bought to lose weight over summer in the off-season of their chosen sport.
Brothers Lachlan and Mitchell Frear were banned yesterday for two years by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand for attempting to buy the banned drug clenbuterol.
The ban is in effect for just the one year as the ban is back-dated until the start of this year. The brothers played for SkyCity Stampede team, based in Queenstown, in the national league this year.
The brothers are still living in Queenstown, where they hail from, and did not wish to comment yesterday.
Their father, Niel Frear, said when contacted yesterday his sons had no comment.
New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation president Gunther Birgel said in a statement the two men were naive in believing the product was a fat-burning product only.
Both young men deeply regretted not having checked with relevant experts before buying the product and accepted the decision. They wanted to get involved in drug education for players in their sport.
Birgel said the suspensions were unlikely to have any impact on the result of the national league, which was won for a third time in a row by the Stampede this season.
The ban is the first of many to come from the fallout from a sweep conducted by Drug Free Sport New Zealand which is said to involve about 80 athletes.
It stems from the arrest of Christchurch man Joshua Francis Townshend who was sentenced to two years in jail for producing clenbuterol and other illegal drugs.
A check of Townshend’s database showed about 80 athletes – mainly amateur players – had contacted Townshend about buying drugs.
Mitchell Frear had played ice hockey for two national league teams – the Stampede, based in Queenstown and the Thunder, based in Dunedin – and also played for the national team.
Mitchell, who is believed to be 25, made the purchase online on October 27, 2014, paying $30 for the product.
He was attracted to the low price – $30 – but the product did not arrive after he bought it online.
He assumed it was an online scam and just forgot about it. He provided a sample for testing and was adamant he did not use it. He was not aware an attempted online purchase of a banned substance, never used, is still a violation. He was 22 at the time of purchase and was studying in Dunedin.
He was concerned about his weight gain and thought the product would help him with weight loss and his body image.
Lachlan Frear, who is believed to be 21, bought the product online like his brother and for the same reasons. He bought the product a week after his brother and then made a second order in late January, 2015, spending a total of $60.
He also never received the product and assumed he had been scammed and forgot about it.
The tribunal said they were satisfied neither of the brothers had taken the substance but the responsibility for not breaching the anti-drug regime lay with the athlete.
The ban was backdated to January 1 this year after it ruled the delays to getting to the hearing process were lengthy. It took two years between the matter coming to the attention of Drug Free Sport New Zealand and proceedings being filed against the Frears.
The brothers will be banned until the end of next year.
Stampede coach Adam Blanchette could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
- Otago Daily Times