Young rugby player banned for possessing performance enhancing drug

5 Jun 2015

A young rugby player has been banned from all sport for two years for possession of a performance enhancing peptide.

New Zealand Rugby’s Judicial Committee today sanctioned Finn Hart-Strawbridge after he pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited substance, namely GHRP-6.

Drug Free Sport NZ took the case against the under-19 representative and Lincoln University rugby player after New Zealand Customs seized a package in October last year.

The package was addressed to Finn Hart-Strawbridge and contained a 5mg vial of the human growth hormone precursor GHRP-6.

Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive, Graeme Steel, says the case highlights the range of tools available to identify those who break the rules around doping.

“Those considering doping should never think that drug testing is the only tool we have at our disposal.  We work closely with New Zealand Customs, Medsafe NZ and other enforcement agencies to detect the potential importation of performance enhancing drugs.

“Those who seek to buy performance enhancing drugs online are making a huge mistake and are putting their health and their sporting career at great risk.  In this case, this young man has paid a high price for a poor decision which has affected his immediate future in rugby,” Mr Steel says.

Finn Hart-Strawbridge told the Judicial Committee that he’d ordered the vial of GHPR-6 off the internet after reading a series of newspaper articles about a reporter who had used the drug.  

He said he didn’t think there would be any great consequence in ordering the drug because it was only a small amount.  He also said he wasn’t aware that he was breaching anti-doping regulations by ordering the substance.  However, he realised
his mistake after attending a Drug Free Sport NZ anti-doping education seminar.  

Mr Hart-Strawbridge admitted ordering the drug online when he was first spoken to by Drug Free Sport NZ about the matter and told the Judicial Committee he’d ordered it as a prank, in part to see how easy it was to do.  He admitted this was foolish and naive and said he deeply regrets his actions.

Mr Steel says young athletes need to ensure they rely on credible sources for information about whether drugs, supplements and medications are safe and permitted in sport.

“Ordering drugs online after reading a newspaper article, or at any other time, is irresponsible and dangerous.  We urge athletes and their support personnel to come to us for detailed information about what’s permitted in sport” Mr Steel says.

He adds that members of the media also have a responsibility to accurately highlight the impact of performance enhancing drugs on an athlete’s health and sporting career.

Drug Free Sport NZ runs an extensive anti-doping programme and its website, www.drugfreesport.org.nz, 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.  

You can read the full decision of the New Zealand Rugby Union’s Judicial Committee on Finn Hart-Strawbridge here.

Information on GHRP-6

  • GHRP-6 is a synthetic peptide.  Its other names include:
    • Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-6
    • Growth hormone releasing hexapeptide
    • Somacrin
  • Growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRPs) are a group of peptides known to stimulate the body to release growth hormone.  They include GHRP-2, -4, -5, -6, hexarelin, alexamorelin and ipamorelin.
  • GHRPs have been found in nutritional supplements.
  • GHRP’s appeal to athletes will be in the ability to release endogenous growth hormone (although this effect is short-lived and relatively weak).  GH itself is attractive to athletes due to its purported ergogenic effects (stimulates protein turnover/strong anabolic agent, increases muscle mass and strength, increases lipolysis/promotes lean body mass), and capacity to aid recovery from musculoskeletal injury.  GHRP-6 may be used as a masking agent for use of synthetic GH or to re-stimulate endogenous production following use of synthetic GH.  
  • GHRP-6 is a non-approved pharmaceutical readily available via Internet providers.