WELLINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu has tested positive for a banned substance and is ‘shocked’ at the result, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said on Sunday.
Tuipulotu tested positive for an unspecified banned substance last year and was sent home from the All Blacks end of season tour for what the team said at the time was ‘personal reasons’.
Local media reported earlier on Sunday that Tuipulotu had been provisionally suspended after the positive test, though there was no official confirmation from NZR, the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association (NZRPA), Drug Free Sport New Zealand or World Rugby.
NZR, however, and the NZRPA, later issued a joint statement confirming they had been informed of Tuipulotu’s positive test late last year.
“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,” the statement said.
”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 24-year-old Tuipulotu made his All Blacks debut in 2014 and was in contention for the 2015 World Cup squad but underwent surgery for a congenital hip problem and missed most of the season.
He returned to the national team last year but returned home early after he played his 12th test in the 68-10 victory over Italy in November. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Napier, New Zealand; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)