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NZ Sports Drug Agency tests Super12

NZ Sports Drug Agency carrying out over 100 tests this Super 12 season

New Zealand Sports Drug Agency is carrying out over 100 tests on Super 12 rugby players this year in their fight against drugs in sport.

The agency’s executive director Graeme Steel said today they will do most of the testing out of competition.

``Last year (to June 30 2002) we did a total of 320 tests in rugby. Rugby testing was about 21 percent of our total tests,’’ Steel said. Of the 320 tests two were returned positive - for pseudoephedrine, commonly contained in cold remedies.

Drug agency chairman David Howman confirmed testing on Super 12 players had already begun, with the first of the warm up games beginning this weekend.

``It’s significant to note that these tests are carried out by contract. The New Zealand Rugby Football Union are paying for the cost of the testing – it’s not free as this is a professional competition which attracts huge revenue.’’

Howman is the new No.2 person in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) organisation based in Montreal.

As WADA’s special counsel and chief operating officer, Howman’s role is vital to ensure countries, government and sports support a new world code to be accepted in March.

``This is a critical time in the battle against drugs in sport and I want to make sure everyone fully takes on board the new code,’’ Howman said.

He will attend the world sports drugs conference at Copenhagen on March 2-4 where the new WADA world code will be accepted.

The move to setting up a global code is a crucial step in the fight against drug use in one of the most serious issues facing world sport.

WADA’s world code will provide a framework for agreeing to procedures and ultimately providing levelling the playing field.

All sporting organisations and governments will be expected to sign up to or recognise the code in international competitions.

Failure to do so could see sports or countries ultimately eliminated from the Olympic Games and other major competitions.

Howman has worked with WADA since it was set up in 1999 to oversee the global fight against sports doping. He is head of the WADA legal committee and was a top official of WADA independent observer teams at the Sydney and Salt Lake City Olympics. Mr Howman said it was important for New Zealand’s reputation to continue to be a leader internationally in anti-doping policy and procedure.

In the last financial year to June, the NZ agency carried out a record 1481 drug tests across 44 sports. These resulted in 13 positive tests or refusals. These resulted in 13 positive tests or refusals.

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