Patrick Tuipulotu may seek compensation if lab found to be at fault for positive drug test

All Blacks and Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu could seek compensation if results of his initial drugs test were botched by a Salt Lake City-based laboratory.

Four days after Stuff broke news that Tuipulotu failed a test for a specified substance last November while touring with the All Blacks, results of the 24-year-old's second B sample came back negative.   

That cleared Tuipulotu, who faced a potential two-year ban, to return to training immediately with the Blues, but left several unanswered questions about the discrepancy in his two samples, which were tested nine weeks apart.

Following results of his first positive test result on November 16, Tuipulotu was provincially suspended. The nine weeks between A and B sample findings has been put down to every avenue being explored, including private testing, a lie detector examination, and the need for someone representing Tuipulotu to be present at the American lab as B sample testing was conducted. 

While Tuipulotu's case is incredibly rare, described by Drug Free Sport NZ boss Graeme Steel as a "one in 10,000" occurrence, similarities can be found with Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kusal Perera.

In October, 2015, Perera failed a test for performance enhancing 19-Norandrostenedione and was subsequently suspended from the tour of New Zealand, a bilateral Twenty20 series against India, the Asia Cup, and the World T20.

Four months later, Perera's ban was lifted by the International Cricket Council after a Qatar-based testing facility was found to have "misidentified impurities in the samples".

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) suspended the Qatar lab's accreditation, and it is understood Perera lodged a compensation claim with Wada for losses incurred.

In Tuipulotu's case, Wada has confirmed it will launch its own inquiry into the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City. 

The issue is particularly important with 100 per cent faith needed in Wada systems given the controversy surrounding state-sponsored doping in Russia.

If the lab is found to be culpable in Tuipulotu's first positive test, he may seek compensation on the basis of being wrongly suspended; precluded from training with the Blues, damage to his reputation, money lost on lawyers and earnings from the final All Blacks test of the year in Paris which he missed after being sent home for what were described at the time as "personal reasons".

Once the Wada-led lab investigation is complete, Tuipulotu will be guided by his lawyers, agent and the Players' Association about whether to pursue the matter, or leave it due to further costs and potential anxiety.