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Change in NZ laws urged, to keep sport drug-free

Media Release – November 11

Change in NZ laws urged, to keep sport drug-free

Laws need to be changed to keep sport free from the scourge of drugs, New Zealand Sports Drug Agency (NZSDA) executive director Graeme Steel said today.

Changes had to be made to the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency Act to reflect the new world anti-doping code, he said in the agency’s annual report released today.

The anti-doping policies of all sports need to be updated to reflect the new world code, Steel said.

``We need to redouble our efforts to establish a process for tracking the whereabouts of all athletes in the testing programme.

``It is now a “violation” for an athlete to fail to supply this information.

``These tasks are stretching the limited resources available to the Agency but there is no question that if we get it right it will be a huge step forward in the anti-doping fight.’’

The code was a challenge to implement especially for New Zealand where the programme is governed by legislation.

``Parliament is not necessarily attuned to the same perspectives on how to solve problems as the decision makers in Copenhagen,’’ Steel said.

In his report, chairman Professor Dave Gerrard said the adoption of the world anti-doping code in Copenhagen in March was possibly the single most significant step ever taken by the anti-doping movement.

A disturbing trend had been the failure of some governments to meet their respective portions of the 50 percent contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) budget.

``New Zealand sport faces a huge challenge in implementing the code,’’ Dr Gerrard said.

``Sports Minister Trevor Mallard continues to provide tremendous support both in this process and for the agency

``We are still faced with examples of poor decision making from some national sports organisations that have resulted from a combination of poorly drafted rules and naive administrators.’’

He said the new code, a new list of banned substances, the Athens Olympics and an obligation to NZ athletes will ensure escalating work for the NZSDA.

During the year the NZSDA suspended testing in the sport of wrestling as a result of a decision to not apply an effective penalty on an athlete who refused a test.

Testing will not resume until policy alterations occur, placing Olympic representation for wrestlers in jeopardy.

In the last year there were only nine positive tests and three refusals from the 1413 tests conducted by the agency.

Six of the cases came from 40 tests conducted in bodybuilding.

Both Steel and Dr Gerrard thanked retiring board chairman David Howman for his efforts. He resigned in March to take up a position as chief operating officer at the World Anti-Doping Agency. He has subsequently been appointed director general.


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