NZ rugby drugs cheat rejects naming stars for ban deal
Wellington - A New Zealand rugby drug cheat has refused to name star players on steroids despite being offered a reduction on his six-year playing ban if he did, according to a report Sunday.
A number of professional players including one New Zealand representative are believed to be involved, but Andrew Burne told Fairfax Media he was not interested in destroying the careers of others.
In 2013, when Burne was a senior rugby player in Wellington, police found bottles of the anabolic steroid Dianabol during a search of his house.
He was discharged without conviction in court, but Drugfree Sport New Zealand, which enforces World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) codes, then took the case to New Zealand Rugby which last year imposed a six-year ban.
Burne bought the steroids for himself and rugby-playing friends, and contact names and messages found on his phone by police were handed over to Drugfree Sport.
When he approached Drugfree Sport offering to help with education campaigns about the dangers of drugs in sport, he was instead asked to discuss a deal requiring him to identify the players he had supplied.
Fairfax cited a recent email to Burne in which Drugfree Sport investigations director Jude Ellis detailed how they could ask to have his ban reduced if he provided "substantial assistance" under a rule which allows for rewards in return for evidence that leads to another person being found guilty of doping.
"We have not previously dealt with this rule directly and it is a little complex, so if you are serious about this we will need to chat some more so you are clear on what would be required," Ellis advised.
Fairfax quoted Burne as saying some players he associated with had gone on to play professionally and one to represent New Zealand.
But he maintained he was not interested in destroying their careers and would rather help stop young people taking drugs in the first place.
"I went to them, trying to work out a way to do something positive for the game and to try and stop other young guys doing steroids. I don't want anyone else to make the same mistake I did, but all they want is names," he said.
"And what's that going to do? If I say I gave someone steroids, it's my word against theirs. If they had any proof, they would have done something already."
Burne said the extra bulk from taking steroids was not worth getting caught and he was sincere about wanting to provide a better environment for others.
"If they want to treat me like a criminal, even though I'm not, that's up to them," he added.
"But the rules should be changed. You shouldn't only be able to get off if you nark on others. Shouldn't you be able to get a smaller ban if you do something good?"