Drug ban for ex-Southland prop

Tuki Raimona
Tuki Raimona
Former Southland prop Tuki Raimona has been banned for two years after admitting he took dianabol, a prohibited substance.

Raimona offered a defence that he was not playing rugby at the time of purchasing the drug and had no intention of playing when he took the drug.

He was given the ban after the decision of a hearing was released yesterday. The ban though has been backdated, meaning he has already served more than half of it.

Raimona, who attended Southland Boys' High School and played for New Zealand Schools in 2010, played 10 games for Southland in 2012-13.

After hip surgery, he went to Taranaki and played two games for the Stratford club in 2014 but then broke his jaw.

He returned to Southland later that year, began working in Bluff, and told the hearing he had no intention of playing the sport again.

He ordered dianabol in January, 2015, over the internet and used it. The next month he ordered it again but told the hearing he did not use the drug that time and gave it away to a friend.

In his statement, Raimona said in March, 2015, he went along to a rugby club to meet a friend and, although he did not want to play, he weakened and played a game.

When the coach asked him to keep playing, he agreed and restarted his playing career.

The next year Raimona moved to Manawatu, where he played 17 games in the Mitre 10 Cup for the Turbos in 2016-17.

The prop said he did not think he was in breach of the sports anti-doping rules in 2015 as he was not playing or training for the sport.

The hearing though ruled as he was registered he was bound by New Zealand Rugby regulations from September 1, 2014, to the end of August, 2015.

Drugfree Sport NZ chief executive Nick Paterson said it was an important ruling as if Raimona had got off it would allow players to dope in the off-season and then register and start playing in the season.

Raimona was given six months' credit for a delay in proceedings against him and also his frank admissions in what happened. The ban was backdated as the investigation took a long time.

Paterson said although the backdating of the ban now covered a period in which he was playing, the offence happened in early 2015 and had no bearing on his play in 2017.

Paterson said if he had been an active player at the time he would have been banned for four years.

In a separate case, Raimona appeared in court in 2014 after forging a doctor's prescription to gain 160 pills. He was also convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs in 2013.

Two other club players have also been banned for two years after hearing decisions were released yesterday.

Wellington club player Brandyn Laursen and Bay of Plenty club player Francis Skipworth were given backdated two- year bans.

All three decisions released yesterday arose from Drug Free Sport New Zealand's investigation into online steroid purchasing from the website NZ Clenbuterol.

 

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