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DFSNZ welcomes findings of review into school rugby anti-doping programme

9 Sep 2020

An independent review commissioned by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) into its anti-doping programme in school rugby has concluded that DFSNZ’s education programmes in schools should be expanded, and the current limited testing at the 1st XV Top Four tournament should be moved away from schools and into the high performance arena. The review made a total of nine recommendations, aimed at getting an appropriate balance between anti-doping education and deterrence in the school sport environment.

DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson has welcomed the review’s recommendations. “In the face of growing risks internationally in school sport, our goal has always been to support our up and coming athletes so that they continue the culture of clean sport and high integrity in New Zealand.

“This review has been a great opportunity to step back and consider our programme within the context of issues around athlete welfare and school sport, in line with our original goals. We want to improve the health, wellbeing, and good decision making of our young athletes, not add unnecessary pressure.”  

DFSNZ has already been working in the sports integrity space, and in 2019 over 5000 athletes attended DFSNZ’s clean sport workshops. “As well as working with high performance athletes, we ran 85 workshops which were attended by nearly 2,500 school students. The workshops are presented by current or former athletes; and are focussed on helping young sportspeople to make good decisions.”

 “But while clean sport education was DFSNZ’s original goal, naturally attention became focussed on the small number of limited-screen tests that DFSNZ conducted (eight tests per year) within the Schools 1st XV tournament. This testing programme will continue, but within the high performance environment such as sport-specific academies where support staff already have long experience of drug testing.

 “We want all young people have a quality sport experience and participate in a fair environment”, said Mr Paterson. “We will continue to build our education programme on strong collaboration and partnerships with national sports organisations, players associations and school sports organisations.”

The review was commissioned by DFSNZ and conducted by Rotorua lawyer Ben Sandford. Mr Sandford is also the current chair of the WADA Athlete Committee, a member of the NZOC Athlete Commission and Integrity Commission, and a three-time Winter Olympian.