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Club Rugby Player Banned For Six Years

11 May 2016

Former Wellington Club Rugby Player banned for six years

A former Wellington club and Wellington Maori rugby player has been banned from all sport for six years for using and distributing anabolic steroids.

New Zealand Rugby’s Judicial Committee today sanctioned Andrew Burne after he pleaded guilty to; use, possession and trafficking prohibited substances. 

Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) took the case against the former Johnsonville Premiers player after the Police executed a search warrant in September, 2013 and discovered large quantities of anabolic steroids, prescription medicines and associated equipment for manufacturing new medicines at his home in Wellington.

Mr Burne was identified as being involved in procuring and supplying anabolic steroids and other prohibited substances. The three admitted violations of trafficking, possession and use were treated as one violation for the purposes of imposing sanctions.

DFSNZ chief executive Graeme Steel, says the case was very clear cut and on the serious end of the scale.
“We work closely with the New Zealand Police, Medsafe and other enforcement agencies to assist our sports anti-doping programme. Drug testing is just one tool we have at our disposal and we will use all manner of means to catch those who break the Rules,” Mr Steel says.

“Mr Burne is now suffering the consequences of his actions, and these poor decisions made over an extended period have now scuttled any possible career in rugby for a number of years.”

The evidence provided to the Judicial Committee showed that Mr Burne had started using anabolic steroids in late 2011 in order to gain mass size and strength to maximise his opportunities in rugby union. When his use of the steroids started to change his body shape, his friends asked him to obtain substances for them. The products sold by Mr Burne over a two year period included a variety of anabolic steroids which were on the Prohibited List.

“Athletes in any sport signed up to the World Anti-Doping Code need to realise that DFSNZ powers extend to any level and that includes club rugby,” Mr Steel says.

“We understand that Mr Burne was supplying these banned substances to other players and he has indicated that there has been some encouragement for players at that level to use them. That is a real concern for us. We will investigate and prosecute any person involved in using or trafficking prohibited substances.” 

Mr Burne was charged by the Police for 20 representative offences under the Medicines Act 1981 in relation to his illegal dealing and he ultimately pleaded guilty. He received a discharge without conviction for the offences. This was a particularly disappointing outcome from DFSNZ’s point of view given the extensive police work involved in bringing the case to court and the fundamental way the actions undermine all that is good in New Zealand sport. 

Mr Burne’s ban means he is not allowed to be involved in rugby or any other sport at a serious level for the six years of his ban, either as a competitor, or in any support role.

Drug Free Sport NZ run an extensive anti-doping programme and its website,, contains detailed information on the anti-doping rules, what’s prohibited in sport, and the consequences of doping. Athletes can also phone 0800 DRUG FREE (378 4377) for advice.  

The Sports Anti-Doping Rules definition of “trafficking” is:
•    Trafficking: Selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering or distributing a Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method (either physically or by electronic or any other means) by an Athlete, Athlete Support Personnel, or any other Person subject to the jurisdiction of an Anti-Doping Organisation to any third party; provided however, this definition shall not include the actions of ‘bona-fide’ medical personnel involving a Prohibited Substance used for genuine or therapeutic purposes or other acceptable justification and shall not include actions involving Prohibited Substances which are not prohibited in Out-of-Competition Testing unless the circumstances as a whole demonstrate such Prohibited Substances are not intended for genuine and legal therapeutic purposes.