DRUG FREE SPORT NEW ZEALAND says it is considering whether to test high school students following reports that some are using performance-enhancing substances.
The agency told a parliamentary committee this week that students overseas were using drugs to improve their athletic performance, and it should be investigated whether it is happening in New Zealand as well.
Chief executive Graeme Steel told Radio New Zealand that his agency had been told that increasing numbers of youngsters are using drugs to perform.
“And we know well that when you begin using supplements, unless you’re very careful, you can use the wrong ones – some that are contaminated, some that contain banned substances.”
They would look at what other organisations are doing in terms of testing young athletes.At the moment any athlete in New Zealand or competing overseas is subject to an anti-doping code.
Steel highlighted rugby and rowing as two sports that may need testing at high school level.
This was challenged by Andrew Carr Smith from the New Zealand Secondary School Rowing Association.
“To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never even had any allegations that we’ve got drug cheats within the sport. Obviously, it’s a highly competitive sport at school level, but our schools tend to always row within the limits of our rules rather than pass them.”
New Zealand Schools Rugby Council chairman Garry Chronican made similar comments.
“I’ve never had a conversation about it before today. There’s no inkling whatsoever, it’s the first time the matter’s been raised. It’s just not been on our radar at all.”
The parliamentary committee also heard that the use of banned drugs was not as widespread as in Australia.
An investigation in Australia recently revealed that the use of banned drugs is endemic in professional sport, and that criminal networks are involved in distribution.