26th July 2017

Key information on testing at Top Four Championship

Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) will carry out anti-doping testing at the NZSS 1stXV Top 4 rugby tournament in Palmerston North in September. DFSNZ has identified elements within the schools rugby environment which indicate a significant potential for doping to occur. This includes research conducted by Otago University on behalf of DFSNZ showing extensive and uncontrolled supplement use, along with the knowledge that doping (and in particular anabolic steroid use) is occurring in comparable environments overseas, notably South Africa and the UK.

DFSNZ has the mandate and responsibility to act in environments where it believes there is a significant potential for doping to occur. This competition is run under the jurisdiction of NZ Rugby who have adopted WADA Code compliant anti-doping rules that are mandatory for all players.

It is essential that secondary school sport operates with integrity to ensure fairness and, most importantly, the health of players must be protected. Education is vital to ensuring that players, coaches and parents are aware of the processes and any related issues in advance of the tournament.

DFSNZ has taken a four pronged approach to addressing the school sport environment as follows:
• The creation of a ‘Good Clean Sport – Youth’ workshop designed specifically for high school age athletes from all codes. These workshops for young athletes emphasise and promote the positive values of sport and how to apply them. The Good Clean Sport – Youth programme is already well under way with a total of 58 workshops conducted in almost 50 high schools around New Zealand and has been available since February this year.
• Gathering data through a doctoral research study being conducted by the DFSNZ Education Manager that will assess the behaviours and attitudes of school age athletes.
• Providing clean sport education which prepares those at the most elite end of school sport for the potential that they may be tested during their careers and possibly (in limited circumstances) in school competitions.
 Initiating a limited and focussed testing programme at, in the first instance, the top end of 1st XV rugby, relying on good quality anti-doping education in the lead up to testing.
Where testing does occur, there will be protections for the athletes including:
• Exposure to comprehensive education which; prepares them for testing, alerts them to the risks associated with supplement use and enables them to understand how to manage the proper use of medicines. Parents are encouraged to attend these presentations.
• A limitation on the range of substances tested for, reducing the potential for ‘innocent’ positive tests. (This has been introduced for this first round of testing and will be reviewed for future testing.)
• The ability for parents or other representatives to accompany athletes being tested including, where under 18, during all elements of the test.

Summary of the testing process (explained fully in the education presentations and on the DFSNZ website)

• Testing will be conducted by Drug Free Sport NZ under the Rules of New Zealand Rugby.
• Urine samples will be collected in private under the supervision of accredited DFSNZ Testing Officials. Players may have a representative (e.g. coach, parent) present during the process.
• Samples will be analysed at the WADA accredited Laboratory in Sydney.
• Analysis will focus on a limited range of substances that are taken specifically to enhance performance and are highly unlikely to be under medical prescription.
• In the rare event that a positive test results from properly administered medication the opportunity to apply for an exemption permitting the medical use is available.
• Should a player test positive without any medical justification the normal results management process and, where applicable, sanction regime will apply.

For more detailed information on testing, click here.

• This media release was originally published by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) on 26 July 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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