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Tuipulotu relieved at doping clearance

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/02/2017

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu has spoken of the stress that engulfed his life after initially testing positive to a banned substance.

The 24-year-old was cleared of any wrongdoing on Thursday when B-sample testing at a WADA-approved laboratory in Utah found no presence of the unnamed substance .

He had been provisionally suspended since last November when forced to fly home prematurely from the All Blacks tour for what were claimed to be personal issues.

He was bound to keep the findings private under confidentiality rules, testing the inner strength of the 12-Test forward and those closest to him.

"As usual in Samoan families, we have each other's back. They've been awesome and really supportive," he told journalists before joining Blues team-mates for his first training session of the year.

"It was stressful and hard to take at the time for myself, my partner and my family."

The quietly-spoken Tuipulotu said he wasn't demanding to know what caused the testing discrepancy. Nor was he seeking any apology for the damage caused.

After weeks of solitary training he wanted to embrace the team element of rugby again and leave lingering question marks over the incident to lawyers and NZ Rugby representatives.

In a statement, WADA said it will investigate the matter with the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City.

Blues coach Tana Umaga hopes there won't be any stigma shadowing his powerhouse lock.

He says his team were never in doubt about Tuipulotu's innocence, having expressed initial "disbelief" at the first finding.

"Patrick doesn't talk a lot. We just respected his space and let him know there was support here for him," Umaga said.

"All the other stuff, people who have got better degrees than I do, that's for them to sort out."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen saved his criticism for those who passed judgement on Tuipulotu when news of the failed A-Test was leaked over the weekend.

"Sometimes people are a wee bit too quick to judge, that's why the process is so important," Hansen said.

"It's great for him and his family and NZ Rugby because there's already been a few people who've had a shot.

"Patrick isn't a guy who needs to take anything. He's a big athlete anyway, so it'd waste time, him taking anything."

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