New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder described himself as “devastated” after being banned for six months for an anti-doping violation.
The controversial batsman tested positive for two banned stimulants, 1-Phenylbutan-2-amine (PBA) and N, alphadiethyl-benzeneethanamine (DEBEA), when he was tested at Ford Trophy Wellington Firebirds game against Northern Knights on 24 March 2013.
The 29-year-old was handed a provisional suspension on April 19, with the hearing in his case not taking place until August 9 in an already turbulent year for Ryder.
Ryder could have been banned for up to two years for the offence, but the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand accepted that there had been no intention to cheat on the part of Ryder, who ingested the banned stimulants when taking the dietary supplement Gaspari Detonate to battle weight problems.
He will be eligible to resume his career on October 19, but Ryder has not competed professionally since an assault which put him in intensive care in March, while he has not represented the Black Caps in any form of the game for over 18 months.
"I'm devastated by this situation," Ryder said in a statement issued by 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 programme I was completing to help me lose weight.
"I have attended anti-doping education seminars during my time in cricket and am a strong 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.
"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."
In announcing the ban, the Sports Tribunal accepted Ryder's explanation that he had researched the dietary supplement before using it.
However, while acknowledging that there are no banned substances among its listed ingredients, the Tribunal said that a warning on the packaging that it may contain traces of other substances should have been enough to prompt Ryder to approach Drug Free Sport New Zealand before proceeding.
"The mandatory penalty for this violation is two years' suspension," the Sports Tribunal statement said. "However the suspension can be less if the athlete establishes how the prohibited substances got in his system and that the taking of the prohibited substance was not intended to enhance his sport performance.
"Mr Ryder admitted the violation and stated he had been using a dietary supplement in order to lose weight and had taken two capsules five days before being tested. The supplement didn't list any prohibited substances on its label...The failure to contact Drug Free Sport, having seen the warning on the label, is the most substantial factor of fault on the part of Mr Ryder."