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Sharapova case sees huge increase in medication checks

4 Apr 2016

The number of athletes and support personnel checking medications and supplements to see if they’re prohibited in sport has spiked to an all time high in the wake of tennis ace Maria Sharapova’s positive test for the banned substance meldonium last month.

The Drug Free Sport NZ (DFSNZ) website, text service and medication hotline is experiencing a fourfold increase in traffic, with people checking everything from cold sore cream to asthma medication. 

The website outlines clearly how athletes can identify if they are in possession of substances which are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The fallout for Sharapova has been swift under the intense international spotlight and she is now facing a potential career-ending ban from tennis. The Russian-born athlete says she was not aware the Prohibited List had changed and that ‘meldonium became a prohibited substance which I had not known.’

DFSNZ chief executive Graeme Steel says the responsibility comes down to the individual to check what they are taking, both in and out of competition.

“We’ve invested a lot of resources into ensuring that our athletes, parents and support personnel here in New Zealand have access to the most up-to-date information on banned substances and supplements,” Mr Steel says.
If a medication appears on the banned substance list, a Theraputic Use Exemption (TUE) may be required or an alternative medication prescribed by a health professional. National and international athletes will need to apply for a TUE before they take any medication.

“Medications and supplements can be checked via our website, a dedicated texting service or simply give us a call.  It’s about education and access to information so that athletes aren’t caught unintentionally taking a banned substance which could ultimately affect their health and their careers,” Mr Steel says.

“It is sad that a famous athlete has been caught out in this way but the good outcome for us is that it has helped get our message across to athletes that they need to check all medications and supplements carefully.”

For more information about what medications and supplements are prohibited in sport,  please visit our website, text the name of the medication to 4365 or phone the medications hotline 0800 DRUGFREE/ 0800 378 437.