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NZOC should take strong stand on Todd

The New Zealand Olympic Committee should give Mark Todd the opportunity to refute or deny allegations of cocaine and exclude him if he won't, Alliance leader Jim Anderton says.

He says the issue is political because New Zealand's reputation will be affected if Mark Todd wins a medal and attempts are then made to strip him and New Zealand of it.

"Video and other evidence has been placed in the public arena claiming Mark Todd used cocaine. He has not, to date, refuted or denied it. If he did use the drug, he has breached his obligations as a representative athlete. He has arguably brought his sport and olympic values into disrepute by not responding to the allegations.

"The Olympic Committee has comprehensive drug policies in place to detect drug use by athletes. It should be acting to make those rules meaningful by writing to Mark Todd and inviting him to deny or refute the allegations. If he can't, he should lose his place on the team and his Sports Foundation funding."

Jim Anderton said the Government has a responsibility to promote and support high standards of conduct, because it also has a responsibility to fund sport.

"The provision of funding carries with it certain moral rights. Among those rights is the right to insist that the rules are being followed. The Government helps to fund sport because it helps to promote role models for young people, promotes the health and well-being of the community and enhances our reputation overseas. All of these are risked to some extent by the allegations surrounding Mark Todd.

"Parliament will soon debate the cannabis issue. I have a very strong personal view that the availability of marijuana should not be liberalised because it is causing too much harm to too many young people. Cocaine is far worse, and public bodies should be taking a strong stand on the drug.

"Mark Todd is a wonderful athlete who has done great things for his sport and his country's reputation. Nothing would please me more than to see this all cleared up quickly," Jim Anderton said.

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