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Basketballer sanctioned for MDMA

20 Sep 2022

Recreational drugs can and do lead to sanctioning

The Sports Tribunal has sanctioned basketball athlete Taane Samuel for one month after he tested positive for MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. Drug Free Sport New Zealand tested Mr Samuel after an NBL fixture in May 2022.

Mr Samuel attributed his positive test to a spiked drink he’d been given at a party two days before the game. He went on to acknowledge that although his attitude at the time had been cavalier, he regretted his actions.

MDMA is prohibited in sport under the Substances of Abuse category. Rules under this category acknowledge that some substances are abused outside of sport and allow athletes to balance a reduced ban with completion of a Substance of Abuse Treatment Programme. This is only the second time DFSNZ has made use of these rules since they were established in 2021, and Chief Executive Nick Paterson is supportive of the approach.

“It’s an approach to sanctioning created with the long-term health and wellbeing of athletes at heart. That being the case, we believe that getting Mr Samuel support for substance abuse and back to sport after serving his sanction is the most practical outcome. But this is also a reminder to other athletes that recreational drugs are banned in sport and can – and do – lead to sanctioning.”

DFSNZ accepted that the MDMA was taken out-of-competition and not intended to give Mr Samuel an athletic advantage. Mr Samuel has already entered into a treatment programme to address his drug use. Completing this programme means the athlete will incur a one-month suspension from sport which finished on 19 September 2022. Failure to complete the programme will result in a three-month suspension.