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Footballer banned from sport for six-months

2 Mar 2016

Drug Free Sport NZ says the case of footballer banned from all sport for six months highlights the need for all athletes to make sure they exercise "utmost caution" when taking medications.

The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand today banned women’s footballer, Kelsey Kennard, from all sport for six months for taking a prohibited substance, namely Probenecid.

Probenecid is commonly prescribed with antibiotics, but is prohibited in sport and athletes need to apply for a special exemption if they wish to use it.

Drug Free Sport chief executive, Graeme Steel, says the case emphasises the need for athletes to understand the anti-doping rules around medications.

“Drug Free Sport NZ stresses that athletes need to check whether a medication is prohibited in sport before they take anything.  

“Ms Kennard has learned a hard lesson for not doing this and we would hope that other athletes learn from her mistake and take steps to check the status of medications they take,” he says.

Ms Kennard took Probenecid after being diagnosed with a cellulitis infection in September 2015.  She was not playing competitive football at the time, but soon after began playing in the National Women’s Football League. She did appreciate the length of time Probenecid would stay in her system

Ms Kennard told the tribunal “it did not occur to her” to check the status of the medication she was taking - even after attending a DFSNZ seminar

The Tribunal said this was not good enough.  

“We consider that for Ms Kennard to simply say that it did not occur to her to make inquiries about the medication she had recently been given fell below the standard of what a reasonable athlete in her position should have done.  We consider that Ms Kennard bore some fault in not taking any steps to check her position either with Drug Free Sport NZ or internally within the team,” the Tribunal said in its decision.

Mr Steel says athletes need to be alert to the fact that many commonly prescribed medications may be prohibited in sport.  

The Tribunal backs this up.  The decision noted that the new Sports Anti-Doping Rules, introduced in 2015, are tough.  

“The Code is stricter than ever before and athletes need to remain vigilant about their obligations under the Sports Anti-Doping Rules. Athletes need to make inquiries if in doubt about their position under the Sports Anti-Doping Rules, whether playing at the time or not,” the decision stated.

Athletes can check the status of medications on the Drug Free Sport NZ website, by calling Drug Free Sport NZ, or by checking with their medical professional.