8 Feb 2013

Olympic official says doping not happening in NZ

8:09 pm on 8 February 2013

The Chef de Mission for the New Zealand Olympic team says systematic doping of any kind is not happening in this country.

The Australian government has put its sportspeople on notice after the Australian Crime Commission found widespread drug use among the top codes.

The commission revealed on Thursday that some players are being administered drugs not yet approved for human use and identifies at least one case of match-fixing.

The year-long investigation identified organised criminal networks that have been involved in distributing the banned substances to athletes and support staff, including doctors and coaches, but does not name specific sporting codes or teams.

Chef de mission Rob Waddell, an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, says he hasn't read the commission's report yet but the findings come as a shock.

Mr Waddell told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday he doesn't believe doping at that level is happening in New Zealand, especially within Olympic sport.

Professional athletes know what substances are banned and should steer clear of anything else that could be seen as illegal, he said.

Take heed, say minister, Drug Free Sport

Sport and Recreation Minister Murray McCully says New Zealand would be unwise to ignore the report's findings.

Mr McCully says while the report doesn't make any accusations about New Zealand athletes, the strong level of engagement between sporting teams on both sides of the Tasman means it can't be ignored.

He says he has asked various government sporting bodies to report back on the implications of the report and for them to consult with sporting organisations, such as the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

The chief executive of Drug Free Sport New Zealand, which is responsible for carrying out testing of athletes from the major codes, is concerned that local athletes could be involved.

Graeme Steele says his organisation will be liaising with its Australian counterpart to see if any New Zealand sportspeople or groups have been implicated.

"I need to be careful here about scaremongering but at the same time be realistic that we can't just assume that we're not involved. So yes, I suppose fearful is the word I would choose, but it's not far wrong."

Mr Steele says rigourous testing for banned drugs is carried out, particularly in rugby.

Rugby, netball comment

Blues Super Rugby franchise chief executive, Andy Dalton, says while drugs taken by his players are administered by health professionals, he expects rugby authorities in New Zealand will react to the report.

"I'm quite sure that the New Zealand Rugby Union will be taking a lot of interest in what's happening in Australia and wouldn't be at all surprised to see more strict protocols come through. If that is the case, then we'll certainly comply with those."

Northern Mystics netball franchise chief executive, Julie Paterson, says her sport's governing body may also review its drug policy to maintain its drug-free reputation.

A professor of sports medicine says while ripples from the report are likely to reach New Zealand, he doesn't think there will be major fallout.

Dave Gerrard, from the Otago University's medical school, says the sports medicine field in New Zealand is very small but the issue needs investigating.

Dr Gerrard says New Zealanders can have utmost confidence in the drug testing regime being carried out and athletes from any sport must remain under the microscope.