All Black lock Patrick Tuipulotu is now cleared to return to rugby immediately after the results of an anti-doping test came up negative.
New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) received notification today from Six Nations that the results of testing on Tuipulotu’s doping control B sample from the US-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City confirmed no presence of a Specified Substance listed on the WADA’s 2016 Prohibited List.
The test result is negative and, as a result, Patrick’s provisional suspension has been lifted with immediate effect. World Rugby have been informed and has confirmed it will not be taking the matter any further.
Tuipulotu is relieved that the process, while incredibly stressful, has revealed the truth.
“This has been a challenging and difficult time for me, my partner, family and team mates, and I am grateful for their support. I’m pleased the matter is now closed, with my reputation and integrity intact, and I look forward to getting back into training and an exciting year of rugby,” Tuipulotu told the All Blacks website.
NZR CEO Steve Tew welcomed closure on the case.
“This is an important and welcomed conclusion for both Patrick and for rugby. We are pleased that a robust process has been undertaken, and that he has been fully cleared.
“There is no room for doping in rugby, and we take our responsibility to keep the game clean very seriously,” he said.
NZRPA CEO Rob Nichol said they were relieved that the right outcome has been achieved.
“Working with Patrick through the process, we always felt confident that he would be cleared. To be honest, there is an element of frustration, given the initial result and publicity, but at least people now know Patrick did nothing wrong,” he said.
Nichol said it was unclear why there had been a discrepancy between the A and B sample results.
“This is a matter that SMRTL is investigating and we look forward to their feedback.
“This result also reinforces the importance of the regulations and strict confidentiality obligations regarding players and their rights. Patrick was unfairly labelled as a result of the premature publicity of this matter. We trust that everyone now has a greater level of understanding in this regard.”
NZR and the NZRPA take the issue of preserving the integrity of the game seriously, including eliminating the use of prohibited substances and any other threat to the game’s reputation.
NZR and NZRPA jointly promote several initiatives throughout the professional rugby environment including compulsory anti-doping and drug education programmes for professional players, a compulsory induction programme covering off all integrity related matters and a new illicit drugs testing and rehabilitation policy and programme.