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Drug Free Sport NZ holds its first anti-doping conference

The welfare of athletes and national sports organisations (NSOs) in anti-doping was the theme of Drug Free Sport New Zealand’s (DFSNZ) first annual anti-doping conference, held in Auckland last week. DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson says: "We were delighted with the level of engagement at our first conference, and the quality of the discussions. We want to work hand in glove with the NSOs and through a conference like this we understand each other better. It was also an opportunity to challenge us on how we do our work, so that we can keep improving. It was incredibly valuable to hear directly from athletes - as it's all about how we can improve our work and support them to compete clean.

One of the highlights was an athlete panel with representation from hockey, Olympic sailing and weightlifting, as the athletes shared their experiences of anti-doping. The athlete panel was moderated by the newly-elected chair of the WADA Athlete Commission, Ben Sandford.

International speakers included Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO David Sharpe, who spoke on crisis management and resilience, and Australian former Olympic rower Kim Brennan who presented on performance ethics. United States Anti-Doping Authority (USADA) Education Manager Tammy Hanson shared USADA's experience in helping athletes to understand the risks of supplements.

The Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson spoke of the important contribution of sport, play and active recreation to our national well-being, and how sport helps to role model the values of hard work, teamwork and fairness. He touched on the international doping scandals and described his role in advocating for clean sport as "being able to look elite athletes in the eye, and say that they are competing on a level playing field". Grant Robertson also referred to ongoing conversations with WADA around flexibility and discretion, noting its importance to domestic sport.

DFSNZ extends its thanks to EY NZ, especially Chairman Braden Dickson and Director Anthony Ruakere for generously hosting the conference.

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