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 teammates 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 would investigate the matter with the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City.