Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Group to monitor drug risk in sport

Sports Minister Murray McCully. Photo / Getty Images
Sports Minister Murray McCully. Photo / Getty Images

Match-fixing will be criminalised and a monitoring group involving nine governmental agencies will be established to help preserve the integrity of elite sports in New Zealand, Sports Minister Murray McCully has announced following the completion of a nine-month report into links between organised crime and drugs in New Zealand sport.

The report, which examined the implications for New Zealand of an Australian Crime Commission investigation which found increased involvement by organised crime in professional sports, found there was "no evidence of systemic use of performance-enhancing substances or the involvement of organised crime" in this country.

New measures stemming from the report were foreshadowed yesterday, however the report itself will not be released to the public because the information - including details of an ongoing Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation into widespread doping at NRL and AFL clubs - is deemed too sensitive.

Sport New Zealand, the lead agency of the three that collaborated on the report, has twice rejected Herald Official Information Act requests to provide information contained in the report.

In April, a Herald investigation revealed peptides - including powerful, undetectable performance-enhancing growth hormone variants - could be easily and cheaply imported into New Zealand.

Legal loopholes meant some peptides were not illegal to import, while a new interpretation of the legal status of others such as the growth hormone variants has yet to be tested in court. Peptide and steroid seizures at New Zealand's borders were at record levels in 2012.

While not uncovering any evidence of systematic doping or match-fixing, the report has clearly identified the dual threats of performance enhancing drugs and match-fixing as an issue that requires significant action.

"I think most people would accept that drugs in sport have become an increasing concern and we need to make sure we are more pro-active about dealing with it," Mr McCully said.

The new inter-agency group would meet at least twice a year to share information and intelligence in a bid to "protect the integrity of New Zealand sport from corruption", a Sport NZ briefing document said.


Sport watch

• The inter-agency group will assess risks to sport of doping, match-fixing and criminal involvement.

• Agencies involved: Sport NZ, Drug free Sport NZ, NZOC, Medsafe, Police, Organised Financial Crime Agency, NZ Customs, National Drug Intelligence Bureau, Serious Fraud Office.

- NZ Herald

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