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09th Feb 2017

All Blacks star free to play rugby again after B sample clears his name

What a mess

Sean McMahon

The latest in a string of controversies surrounding New Zealand rugby.

24-year-old second-row, Patrick Tuipulotu, tested positive for a banned substance late last year, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) confirmed on Sunday. Tuipulotu will be familiar to Irish rugby fans as he was on the All Blacks side which lost to Ireland 40-29 in Chicago last November.

However, following a later test of Tuipulotu’s B sample, the lock has been completely cleared of wrong-doing.

The player’s A sample had tested positive, last November, for a specified substance included on the 2016 prohibited list. He left the All Blacks’ end-of-season tour for ‘personal reasons’ and has lived under a cloud of suspicion and doubt for the past three months.

However a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory – Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City – has confirmed no presence of a prohibited substances.

The news had originally been reported by the New Zealand media before a joint statement was quickly released by NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA).

The statement said: “NZR and NZRPA can confirm that, in November 2016, they were notified that a doping control sample provided by Patrick Tuipulotu had, reportedly, revealed the presence of a specified substance listed on WADA’s prohibited list.

“Patrick was shocked by the test result and is working hard to identify the source of the specified substance. In accordance with WADA regulations, Patrick remains provisionally suspended pending resolution of this matter.

“Further to these regulations, NZR and NZPRA are bound by strict confidentiality obligations.”

The Auckland Blues player then played the week after, in a win against Conor O’Shea’s Italy before being sent home.

Now cleared of any doubt, the player will be free to get on with his rugby career.

*Updated from story first posted on February 6

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