Mitchell and Lachlan Frear have been suspended by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand for the illegal online purchase of the steroid clenbuterol. Joshua Francis Townshend, owner of the clenbuterol.co.nz website, was jailed for two years earlier in 2017 following an investigation by Medsafe.
The pair have played a crucial part in the recent success of the Skycity Stampede in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Their suspensions have been backdated to January 1 2017, which includes the Stampede’s third consecutive NZIHL championship win. Neither player will be available to compete again until December 31 2018.
The Frear brothers were identified in an investigation by Drug Free Sport New Zealand with Mitchell found to have purchased a 10ml bottle of clenbuterol spray in October 2014, while Lachlan had made two purchases of the same product in November 2014 and January 2015.
During that investigation, both had admitted in writing to purchasing the product but denied any use of the substance due to never receiving their orders, and claimed that neither held any intention of cheating to gain an unfair advantage.
From their decision, the Sports Tribunal have stated that Mitchell and Lachlan Frear had not researched the substance for further information, or checked with team staff and players, DFSNZ, or seek medical advice from a doctor prior to purchasing clenbuterol.
In a statement New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation (NZIHF) President Günther Birgel has said:
“The NZIHF strongly supports DFSNZ and is a signatory to World Anti-Doping Agency. All players who represent New Zealand sign a contract agreeing not to use illegal or body enhancing substances.
In this case both young players have been naïve in believing that the product purchased was a fat burning product only. Both young men deeply regret not having checked with relevant experts prior to their purchasing decision and have accepted the decision of the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.
This will serve as a sharp lesson for all of our athletes. From a NZIHF stance, I hope that this will be the only time that our sport is involved in this issue. This matter serves as a reminder to all participants in ice hockey in New Zealand to be vigilant when considering any such substance.”
Birgel went on to confirm that both players have committed to assisting the NZIHF in player education about making ice hockey drug free in New Zealand, along with an increased education requirement at all levels of the sport in 2018.
Stampede team manager Ross Burns told Puck Yeah that he respects the decision made by the Sports Tribunal and won’t be making any further comment on the matter.
(Main photo: Mitchell Frear playing for the Skycity Stampede / Source: Facebook)