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Almost Zero Cases Of NZ Athletes Using Drugs

Almost zero cases of mainstream elite NZ athletes found using drugs

Virtually no mainstream elite New Zealand sports people were found taking performance enhancing-drugs in the last year, according to the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency’s latest annual figures released today.

In the 12 months to June 30, the agency conducted 1518 tests. All tests were conducted with no advance notice to athletes and 60 percent were out of competition.

There were just eight positive tests and one refusal. This compares with 1413 tests with nine positives and three refusals for the previous year. There were 14 cases in 2000-01 and 16 cases in 1997-98.

Three of the positives were from bodybuilders and two from touch players who had traces of cannabis in their system. The other case related to a failure to properly notify asthma use. The other two positives were an Iranian wheelchair athlete and an American softballer. Most tests were done in rugby 364, followed by rugby league 156, basketball 104, swimming 84, hockey 78, cycling 77 and athletics 73.

The high numbers for basketball and hockey are partly explained by their qualification of both men’s and women’s teams for Athens. ``The testing has had a heavy emphasis on Olympic athletes and that is ongoing,’’ sports drug agency executive director Graeme Steel said today.

``But there is virtually no indication of “cheating” within mainstream New Zealand sport. There are only six positives and one refusal from New Zealand athletes.

``This is the lowest number of positives for 5 years and the lowest positive per test ratio ever.’’ It is possible that some athletes are beating the system but all in all it seems to indicate that New Zealand sports are mostly drug free.

A confidential survey of leading New Zealand sports men and women this year found nearly all elite athletes were happy with the effectiveness of the testing as a deterrent to drugs in sports.

Steel heads to Athens next week where he will be deputy chair of the World Anti Doping Agency Independent Observer Team.

“This is a crucial function ensuring that all elements of the testing process are rigorously and independently scrutinised,’’ he said.

”The Team is responsible for writing a report on the manner in which testing was conducted including any shortcomings they identify. This process was initiated in Sydney and eliminates the chance that results can be covertly manipulated as had been previously suggested.

In addition four of New Zealand’s most experienced drug control officials will be assisting with doping control at the Games as volunteers. Ends

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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