Drug ban for retired NZ sevens player

Nathaniel Walker in action for the New Zealand sevens team in 2004. Photo: Getty Images
Nathaniel Walker in action for the New Zealand sevens team in 2004. Photo: Getty Images
A former New Zealand sevens player has been banned for two years for doping.

Five club rugby players - including former Sevens international Nathaniel Walker - have been banned from participating in rugby after a New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee completed the latest anti-doping hearings of allegations brought by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ).

The charges were brought against club players Sam Barton, Henry Boyhan, Paratene Edwards, Shane Laurence and Walker following an investigation initiated by MedSafe into the operation of the website Clenbuterol NZ in 2014 and 2015.

Walker was first selected in Gordon Tietjens' squad for the Sevens World Series as injury cover.

The retired halfback also represented Bay of Plenty copped a two-year-ban after he admitted to purchasing and used (or attempting use) Clenbuterol in 2014.

Walker participated in the hearing, admitted the allegations, but suggested that pursuing a retired player in relation to something that happened four years ago was a waste of money.Walker's ban was backdated by 12 months to 9 October 2017 to take account of his timely admission and delays in proceedings.

Barton initially disputed the allegations against him, but subsequently through a joint memorandum filed by his lawyer and representatives of DFSNZ, he acknowledged the alleged violations and accepted a ban of four years.

Boyhan, also accused of trafficking, admitted the allegations but chose not to appear at the hearing. In a written statement he claimed the purchase was for friends to use and not intended for his personal intake.

A four-year ban, the minimum sanction for trafficking, was imposed and backdated to 21 September 2017 (12 months before the provisional suspension) to take account of Boyhan's timely admissions, and the delays in the start of proceedings.

Hawke's Bay's Edwards and Laurence (Tasman) were handed bans of four and two-and-a-half years respectively.

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