Banned weightlifter in resort

Queenstown weightlifters who attend a seminar held by a banned Olympian may face a two-year ban themselves from the sport.

But the gym owner bringing British weightlifter Sonny Webster to town says he just wanted to give people the chance to get advice from a high-level athlete.

Webster represented Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing 14th.

He was then banned for four years in December 2017, after authorities announced he’d tested positive for a banned substance, Ostarine.

He’s publicly denied intentionally taking the substance, and says he twice rejected a plea deal that would’ve seen his ban halved for pleading guilty.

A Drug FreeSport NZ letter sent by Olympic Weightlifting NZ to its members, obtained by Mountain Scene, outlines that Webster’s ban "prohibits him from participating in sport in any capacity, which includes coaching athletes who are bound to the Sports Anti-Doping Rules".

It warns athletes they’d be committing an "anti-doping rule violation and could be banned from sport for up to two years" for associating with Webster in a sporting or professional capacity.

Webster’s set to hold a weightlifting seminar at Remarkables CrossFit on December 16.

Gym owner Ricky Griffiths says he was aware of Webster’s background when he organised the event.

"It did play a bit of a factor," he admits.

But, he says, those attending were unlikely to be competitive weightlifters who could be affected by any ban.

"We just wanted to help people move better, and get someone’s advice who’s gone to the Olympics."

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