One of Rotorua‘s top cops, Inspector Brendon Keenan, a 44-year-old masters distance runner, has been banned from all sport for four years for buying and attempting to use a prohibited substance.

Keenan, Rotorua‘s area prevention manager, admitted he had ordered and paid for Erythropoietin (EPO) online from an overseas website and submitted a letter saying this was to address a medical condition and not for performance enhancement.

His suspension period of four years was ordered by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand and has been backdated to start from September 2017, meaning he will be disqualified from his second-place finish in the 40-44 age grade at the New Zealand Marathon Championships in Rotorua in May this year.

He will also forfeit the three medals he won at the New Zealand Masters Athletics Championships in Whangarei earlier this year.


EPO is listed as a prescription medicine and is prohibited under class S2 peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances and mimetics on the 2017 prohibited list.

On September 12, 2017 an imported parcel containing EPO, addressed to Keenan, was intercepted by New Zealand Customs and referred to Medsafe.

Following an investigation and communication with Keenan the product was destroyed.

Medsafe advised Drug Free Sport New Zealand.

On May 24, without opposition, Keenan was provisionally suspended and on June 21 he admitted the violation of possession and attempting to use EPO and provided material in support.

Although Keenan did not receive or use the substance, he committed the violation in attempting to acquire the substance.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Nick Paterson said the integrity of sport had once more been called into question.

“We work closely with Athletics NZ to educate and support their members in meeting their anti-doping responsibilities. EPO is well known for its performance-enhancing effects, especially amongst endurance athletes.

“At the minimum, Mr Keenan knew that this purchase presented a significant risk of an anti-doping violation.”

Paterson said he would also like to recognise the vigilance and hard work of New Zealand‘s border agencies in intercepting this and other prohibited substances coming into the country.

In expressing his disappointment, Athletics NZ chief executive Hamish Grey said Athletics NZ supported the sanctions imposed by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.

“Athletics New Zealand is saddened that one of its individual members has committed a doping infringement.

“Drug Free Sport plays a very important role in maintaining the integrity of sport and we support their mandate and work to implement the Sports Anti-Doping Rules (SADR) to keep sport clean.”

He said although Keenan was not an elite athlete and competed in masters competition, Athletics New Zealand needed to send a clear message that the use of performance enhancing drugs would not be tolerated in athletics at any level.

Rotorua area commander, Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said Keenan self-reported the breach to his manager immediate and “we have been supporting him”.

“The ruling of the tribunal does not impact on Inspector Keenan‘s role with New Zealand Police.”

The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand

  • • The Sports Tribunal is an independent body that determines certain types of disputes for the sports sector.

    • • The aim of the Tribunal is to ensure that national sport organisations and other parties to a sports dispute, such as athletes, have access to an affordable, just and speedy means of resolving a sports dispute.