For the first time ever, Drug Free Sport NZ has used a reformed doper to deliver a series of captivating video messages to warn New Zealand athletes about the perils of drug use.
World-renowned road cyclist and former teammate of Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, filmed the videos when he was in the country earlier this year.
The three enthralling and thought provoking videos include a direct message to athletes, a message to the parents of athletes, and top tips for staying clean.
In the videos, Mr Hamilton appeals to sportspeople to “do the right thing” so that they can “look in the mirror and know that they’ve done their best and done it clean”.
He hopes New Zealand athletes will learn from his gruelling career which saw him reach great heights and then unbearable lows once he was uncovered as a doper.
“I wish that when I was a young athlete someone had taken me aside and warned me about the crossroads ahead. This is your warning. Hopefully, some of the mistakes I made can help you make the right choice,” he says.
Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel says using an former doper to speak to athletes about competing clean was a risk, but Mr Hamilton’s message was a powerful one.
“Tyler understands where athletes are coming from. He understands what drives them and he understands the pressure they’re under to succeed.
“He made some devastatingly poor choices in his desire to succeed and it’s our hope that New Zealand athletes will learn from his story, think carefully about the decisions they make, and then choose to compete clean,” Mr Steel says.
Mr Hamilton is unashamedly upfront about the impact doping had on his life, describing it as “eating him alive”.
When he was in the country earlier this year he said, “I was living a lie and it was awful. It pretty much haunted me the whole time. It was almost a decade of lying and led to depression, alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts. I was completely alone and a prisoner of my decisions.”
You can view the three videos here:
Tyler Hamilton talks about the life of a doper:
Tyler Hamilton's top tips for competing clean:
Tyler Hamilton's message to parents:
Mr Hamilton was not paid to make the videos, but was flown to New Zealand to speak at the Sport NZ conference in April.