Press releases 10th November 2017

NBL Basketball player receives one year ban for using banned asthma medication

Wellington Saints basketball player Jordan Mills has been banned from all sport for 12 months after testing positive for prohibited asthma medication terbutaline (otherwise known as Bricanyl). The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand today released their decision after Mr Mills returned a positive test after a National Basketball League (NBL) match on 19 May, 2017.

In the hearing earlier this week Mr Mills promptly admitted intermittently using the inhaler, which contained a prohibited substance, for an ongoing asthma condition. Despite attending Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) education seminars, one as recently as March 2017, Mr Mills was unaware that the medication was prohibited.

Terbutaline is a Beta-2 Agonist which is prohibited at all times on the 2017 Prohibited List. It is used to treat asthma and other pulmonary illnesses, but it also could enhance an athlete’s sports performance. Although Mr Mills is disappointed at the situation he is in, he accepts that the ban is a result of his failure to personally check that his medication was permitted under the WADA Code.

“It wasn’t good enough that I simply relied on my doctors to ensure that any medications I was prescribed were permitted under the WADA Code,” Mr Mills says. “I should have personally checked my medications and had I done that, I would have known I needed a TUE or to use a different asthma medication. It’s disappointing, and I think unfair, that I end up with a ban for legitimate asthma medication longer than many athletes who test positive for illegal substances such as marijuana, but I guess that highlights the importance of checking these things yourself and not relying on others or assuming things will be okay.”

DFSNZ chief executive Nick Paterson agrees that it’s disappointing when an athlete who was not intentionally doping is banned from sport for not doing the basics expected of someone competing in a national competition. “Mr Mills should have known better, having attended an anti-doping education seminar earlier this year and having competed in the NBL for a number of years in New Zealand. He has been tested before and knows about the resources available to him.

“Our role at DFSNZ is to uphold the World Anti-Doping Code, and athletes and their support personnel need to do their part too, fulfilling their responsibility to check every year whether or not their medication is permitted in sport. The majority of these inadvertent cases over the past few years demonstrates that we need to continue to work closely with National Sports Organisations in providing education for their athletes to help them understand their anti-doping responsibilities,” Mr Paterson says.

DFSNZ provides anti-doping seminars to NBL teams and players annually and all DFSNZ resources available at these seminars specifically mention terbutaline as a banned substance in and out of competition. Athletes are required to apply for a TUE to use prohibited substances, if no other alternative medication is available.

The one-year ban has been backdated to the day of the sample collection on 19 May 2017, due to Mr Mills’ prompt admission. Read the decision of the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand here.

• This media release was originally published by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) on 10 November 2017. To access the original, please click here.

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