Rigid sports rules unfair in wake of O'Grady case

By Editorial

It is easy to feel sorry for Port of Tauranga Half Ironman champion Graham O'Grady after he was stripped of his title despite being cleared of drug cheating.
In an unusual case, reported in yesterday's edition, O'Grady ate bread containing poppy seeds which caused him to test above the allowable morphine limit after the flagship January 8 sports event.
O'Grady was a mere 0.1 parts per million above the international rules for drugs in sport.
But a New Zealand Sports Tribunal accepted evidence that it was the poppy seeds in the bread he ate that caused his elevated morphine levels and cleared him of wrongdoing.
It was also accepted that the breach was so minor it was clearly not performance enhancing.
Given this, one would have thought this would be the end of the case and he would suffer no more penalty after having been effectively suspended during the investigation.
But not so.
International anti-doping rules mean O'Grady still had to forfeit his title and prize money to second-place getter Callum Millward. How utterly ridiculous - and unfair on O'Grady.
Hasn't this guy been cleared? Hasn't the tribunal found this accidental breach would not have given him an unfair advantage?
This is a case of justice and rules for the sake of rules gone mad. It is the equivalent of finding someone not guilty in a court of law but still sending them to jail.
Some might argue that athletes must ensure they know what they can and can't consume before and event.
But these people are not chemical experts.

Yes, it is critical the real cheats get caught but why can't the sporting fraternity review its rules and provide for some practical common sense rather than being so black and white?

- Bay of Plenty Times

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