Two rugby league players from opposing teams in the same game have been handed a six-month ban from all sport by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand after testing positive for cannabis.
The pair were competing in a New Zealand Rugby League National Championship game in September, 2016 and were selected for doping control following the match between Southland and Taranaki.
Drug Free Sport NZ Chief Executive Graeme Steel says the two cases are yet another reminder to athletes that cannabis and other recreational drugs are prohibited in sporting competition.
"It’s important for athletes from all codes and at all levels to recognise that social drugs and competitive sport do not mix," he says.
"The threshold for reporting cannabis was raised a few years ago, and these are the first cases that we’ve seen since then. The two cases highlight the fact that athletes can be tested at any time and there are severe consequences if they break the rules. The associated consequences extend beyond just a ban from sport."
The suspensions mean that both players will be unable to participate fully in the coming season.
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