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Hone Harawira: Sports Anti-Doping Bill

SPORTS ANTI-DOPING BILL Hone Harawira Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

15 December 2005

Madam Speaker - Tena koe. Nga mema o te Whare Paremata - Tena hoki tatou katoa.

Madam Speaker I rise today to support the Sports Anti Doping Bill.

I do so because the Maori Party is committed to the notion of fair play, we support the principles of people competing on a level playing field, and we also support the values embodied in the International Charter of Physical Education and Sport of UNESCO.

While this discussion is about principles in sport, Madam Speaker I note that they are also principles which apply to all situations in our society - principles like honesty, ethics, fairness, respect, courage, commitment and unity.

Ki a matou o te ao Maori, me pono, me tika, me tuturu, me pakari, me whaka whaiti.

We also support activities that encourage whanau to take part in community activities, that encourage healthy, active lifestyles and that recognise national Maori sports organisations.

There are many sporting activities in which Maori have gained international recognition, including Maori golfers Phil Tataurangi, Michael Campbell, and now Bradley Iles, surfers like Daniel Kereopa, the whole of the New Zealand basketball team, and waka ama.

In fact, Madam Speaker, we are privileged to host the world waka ama championships at Lake Karapiro in March 2006, when every two years countries from around the world unite to determine who are the best waka ama paddlers in the world. Next year it's here! Bring it on!

All these sporting activities encourage healthy living in an environment without those substances which enhance performance.

Indeed, Maori have a proven record of achievement at the highest level of international sport, competing and winning on the world stage.

The Aotearoa Maori Women's Sevens team for example have won the Hong Kong Sevens on the three occasions in which they have participated. The Aotearoa Maori Rugby Team beat the British Lions and everyone else in the world. The Aotearoa Maori Womens and Mens Touch teams. They did not need performance enhancing drugs to achieve their goals. They did not need to cheat - on themselves, let alone the opposition.

It does concern me though Madam Speaker to regularly hear our sporting commentators referring to people who cheat and get away with it - condoning the behaviour because they simply were not caught.

And it is kind of an irony Mr Speaker, that this game of rugby that our Nation reveres so much, has its origins in a classic legend of cheating dating back to before the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1823, when a young man by the name of William Web Ellis, at a school called Rugby, broke the rules, picked up a ball and ran with it.

Was he cheating - because we even named a World Cup after him. And yet here I am Madam Speaker, speaking about integrity and honesty in sport, when our national sport traces its origins from a cheat.

It made me wonder, albeit just briefly, whether I should withdraw our request to host the World Cup Final in 2011 in Kaitaia.

Seriously though, the Maori Party is of course commited to the game of rugby - and indeed we look forward to our own Te Ururoa Flavell captaining the 2006 Parliamentary Rugby Team, which no doubt will also be dope-free or though probably not free of dopes.

Coming back to the Bill, it is good to see that cheats are starting to get the message that it isn't worth it, and that they will get caught.

And I therefore congratulate the government for introducing this legislation and signing up as part of the international coalition of the willing - opposed to the use of illegal, performance enhancing drugs and prepared to implement the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti Doping in Sport.

We in the Maori Party, Madam Speaker, also compliment the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, its Board and its staff for being so resolute in advocating the apprehension of those who aim to cheat their way to success, through the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Madam Speaker, Sport is a mega million dollar business, as is the manufacture of illicit drugs. Mix the two and you will see the ends to which greed will go to avoid detection.

I disagree with the Minister of Sport, and I agree with the Executive Director of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, Graeme Steel, who wants the World Anti-Doping Agency, to take cannabis off its prohibited substance list so it can concentrate on catching "cheats" who use performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, human-growth hormones and EPO.

We also agree that the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency with its limited resources, should not get sidetracked away from its primary role of being focused, efficient and quick to respond to the key doping issues.

We do not agree with sports people being stoned or drunk while participating in sport, but we also recognise that neither drug enhances performance.

A lot of time and resources can be wasted on policing the use of recreational drugs, while those using performance enhancing drugs are not given the attention they should be getting.

And what is more there is no evidence of widespread use of cannabis by New Zealand's elite athletes, and we congratulate the fact that there have been no positive cannabis tests in our top level professional sports teams such as the All Blacks, the Warriors, the Kiwis and the Silver Ferns.

Resources are best put towards the catching those cheats who use sophisticated means and sophisticated substances to escape detection.

Madam Speaker the Maori Party does not believe that the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs is rife in sport here in Aotearoa. We also believe that more would be gained by encouraging athletes to not use recreational drugs rather than use punitive measures against them.

But we know too that we must always be vigilant.

Mr Speaker, the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency is a small agency and I note that they are expected to draft the rules once this Bill becomes law.

While I am advised that there is a high degree of cooperation between the NZSDA and organisations like SPARC I would support consideration being given to extra resourcing to help the Agency in drafting those rules.

In conclusion Madam Speaker I again commend those responsible for this Bill, a Bill the Maori Party will be supporting.

No reira huri noa tena tatau katoa.

ENDS


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