Ryder gets doping ban

Ex-test batsman Jesse Ryder has been suspended for six months for failing a doping test, but will not miss any first-class cricket because of the ban. The New Zealand Sports Disputes tribunal said in a statement that Ryder returned a positive test for two banned stimulants after a domestic Twenty20 match in March and was provisionally suspended on April 19. The ban was imposed at a hearing on Aug. 9, and backdated to April 19. The retrospective nature of the ban means Ryder will be available from Oct. 19 for the start of next first-class season in New Zealand.

Ryder admitted the violation, telling the hearing he used a dietary supplement to lose weight and had taken two capsules five days before being tested in the belief that it conformed with New Zealand doping protocols, and arguing that the product may have been contaminated or mislabeled. Ryder said that he used the weight-loss product Gaspari Detonate as part of a wider fitness program and after consulting his trainer and coach. "I'm devastated by this situation," Ryder said in a statement released through the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association. "I've never taken drugs and to be in this situation distresses me greatly. I simply took the supplement alongside a training program I was completing to help me lose weight."

Ryder said he had attended anti-doping seminars throughout his cricket career and was a supporter of Drug Free Sport New Zealand. "I'm aware of the precautions you need to take; I did take steps to check the supplement but ultimately it was my responsibility and I accept that," he said. "Whilst everyone is aware of my well-documented battles with alcohol, it's important for me to state that I abhor drug use of any kind, both recreational and performance-enhancing in sport."

Doping violations carry a maximum penalty of a two-year suspension. But a lesser ban can be imposed if an athlete establishes how the banned substance got into his system and can prove the substance was not being used to improve performance. In one of the most famous cases in cricket, Australian great Shane Warne was suspended for a year after testing positive for a banned diuretic in 2003 and blaming it on a diet pill his mother had given him. The Sports Disputes Tribunal said it accepted Ryder's explanation of how he came to test positive for two stimulants. Ryder tested positive after routine drugs test administered when Wellington played North Districts at the Basin Reserve on March 24. He was informed on April 12 that he had tested positive for N-alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine (DEBEA) and 1-phenylbutan-2-amine (PBA).

Ryder commissioned his own analysis which traced the substances to the weight-loss product. He said the substances were not disclosed on the product label. The tribunal said in a statement it was "more than comfortably satisfied that Ryder's taking of the two capsules on 19 March, 2013 was without any intent at all to enhance sports performance. In his testing declaration he disclosed that he had taken two tablets of Tramadol in the days prior to the test." The 29-year-old Ryder has battled weight and fitness problems throughout his career. He averages almost 41 in 18 tests, and has a highest test score of 201, but hasn't played for New Zealand since he was censured after a one-day international against South Africa in February 2012 for breaking team rules by drinking alcohol while injured.

Ryder later declined a New Zealand contract and hired a clinical psychologist to help him tackle alcohol and other personal issues. He recently quit playing for the Wellington province and will take up a contract with Otago from Oct. 1. Ryder learned of the positive test a week after leaving a Christchurch hospital, where he was treated for serious head injuries received in a late-night assault outside a bar. Two men have been charged for the incident.