8 Aug 2023

Hurricanes player suspended for cannabis use

5:27 pm on 8 August 2023
Isaia Walker-Leawere playing for the Hurricanes in 2021.

Isaia Walker-Leawere playing for the Hurricanes in 2021. Photo: Photosport

Hurricanes rugby player Isaia Walker-Leawere has been banned for a month after testing positive for cannabis.

Walker-Leawere tested positive after the Hurricanes match against the Fijian Drua in May, a game in which he was sent off.

At a New Zealand Rugby anti-doping hearing Walker-Leawere revealed a couple of nights after the match he met with friends and smoked marijuana to "wind down".

A few days later he was selected for anti-doping tests, returning a positive test and was provisionally suspended.

The usual ban for such an offence is three months but in a statement Drug Free Sport New Zealand said Walker-Leawere ban has been backdated July 5th and will be a months long, so long as he completes a treatment programme to address his substance use.

If he fails to complete the programme, the three month ban will apply.

DFSNZ chief executive Nick Paterson

Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Nick Paterson. Photo: Supplied: DFSNZ

"We don't believe that cannabis is performance-enhancing," said Drug Free Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Nick Paterson....(and) getting Walker-Leawere support and back into sport after serving his sanction is the most practical outcome and supports long term athlete health and wellbeing.

Patterson said Drug Free Sport New Zealand was among organisations advocating to have cannabis removed from the the prohibited.

"We've advocated to remove cannabis...for over 15 years and will continue to do so. However, while cannabis remains on the Prohibited List, the best approach to avoiding a positive test is to avoid using it."