New anti-doping provisions support athlete health first

20 Apr 2022

Athlete health first

Empty testing bottles on an athletics track.

The Sports Tribunal has suspended rugby league player Sincere Harraway for one month after testing positive for
THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis.

Mr Harraway was tested by Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) after playing for the Canterbury Bulls in the
New Zealand Rugby League’s National Competitions Final in October 2021, at which time he declared he had used
cannabis out of competition.

DFSNZ worked proactively with Mr Harraway to use new provisions under the Sports Anti-Doping Rules for the
first time. These provisions, introduced following changes to the World Anti-Doping Code in 2021, established a
new category of “Substances of Abuse”. This category recognises that some substances are frequently abused in
society outside the context of sport. Sanctioning options are intended to help athletes address any wider
substance issues by offering the opportunity to balance a reduced ban with completion of a Substance of Abuse
Treatment Programme.

DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson said: “The rule changes enable us to be truly athlete-centred when it comes
to substances of abuse, allowing us to support athletes to address underlying issues where they exist rather than
pursuing lengthy bans from sport. This applies especially to cannabis, which we have long said is not performance
enhancing although it remains prohibited in sport.

“In this case we have a pragmatic result for all involved and Mr Harraway can get back to sport, which has obvious
positive health benefits. However, this is another cautionary tale for athletes, showing again that recreational
drugs are still banned in sport and, if detected, can affect your playing future.”

Having established that Mr Harraway’s cannabis use was out-of-competition and not to enhance his performance,
he has entered into a treatment programme to address his cannabis use. As a result, he was suspended for just
one month, which was backdated to 8 February 2022. Mr Harraway has completed his ban and is free to
participate in sport again.