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This followed a disciplinary hearing in early September and is the standard minimum sanction in accordance with IRB regulations and the WADA Code.
Gould tested positive for methylhexaneamine (MHA). This is classified by WADA as performance enhancing, but is only prohibited while players are taking part in competitions.
“We are very disappointed this has occurred,” said New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew. “We have invested heavily in education to ensure players understand their obligations and the risks around taking supplements. This includes regular briefings from our medical staff and outside professionals as well as other support.
“We follow best practice as guided by Drug Free Sport New Zealand, and regularly review our processes to ensure players are getting the advice they need to make informed decisions.
“Like all players Lavinia was given comprehensive education at training camps which included specific advice from Drug Free Sport New Zealand.”
Traces of MHA were found in a dietary supplement (beta-alanine) Gould was using during the tournament. This was not a supplement supplied by New Zealand Rugby. The IRB describes MHA as a stimulant with “effects said to be less than amphetamine and ephedrine and slightly stronger than caffeine” (IRB Anti-Doping Handbook).
Gould played one IRB tournament for New Zealand in 2012 as part of the women’s sevens talent identification programme. Her suspension is backdated from her provisional suspension and ends on 10 January 2015.
“We’re sad for Lavinia as she was a promising player. But there is a real lesson here for all players even when taking a supplement containing a stimulant which is only banned in competition; they must take care as the consequences for their playing career can be severe.”
In the last five years, 1720 tests have been carried out in New Zealand and there have been only two minor violations involving New Zealand players.
“Cases like this are extremely rare in New Zealand rugby. We do not think there is a widespread problem, but we take nothing for granted which is why we also invest an extra $100,000 a year in testing players to give us the assurance we need that the game is played fairly," said Tew.
The IRB’s decision can be found at www.irbkeeprugbyclean.com