Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

No evidence of widespread drug use in NZ sport - Steel

The Australian Government's report on organised crime and drugs in sport was released last week. Photo / Getty Images
The Australian Government's report on organised crime and drugs in sport was released last week. Photo / Getty Images

The head of New Zealand's anti-doping agency has reassured Parliament that the high rates of performance-enhancing drugs in Australian sport are not being observed in New Zealand.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel told a select committee this morning that there was no evidence of an upsurge in drug use in professional or amateur sport.

"There is nothing to indicate the widespread use that they have suggested occurs in Australia. But that's a work in progress. There's always a concern that we're missing something, and this is a good trigger to ... look a bit harder."

Earlier this month the Australian Crime Commission reported that organised crime was were increasingly infiltrating sporting codes and gangs were selling performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes and club players.

Sport Minister Murray McCully has asked New Zealand sporting bodies to report back to him on the implications of the report.

Mr Steel said Drug Free Sport would be co-operating with police to investigate whether gangs were involved in the distribution of steroids and other banned substances to athletes in New Zealand.

He told MPs that there was some concern that steroid use was increasing in New Zealand gyms, and this could have a knock-on effect for sportspeople.

"I'm not talking about sport. I'm talking about across the community - there seems to be a culture around gyms, wanting to be beautiful and so on, and that's where steroids can help.

"The danger for us is that that brings more steroids into the country, into the market and athletes are in those same gymnasia and there's a potential that they may deliberately or not deliberately get involved with that."

Customs officials were picking up more performance-enhancing substances at the border.

Mr Steel said this could indicate that customs' detection methods were improving, or that a greater amount of drugs were coming into the country.

These substances were not illegal for non-sportspeople to use, but were illegal to import or prescribe.

- NZ Herald

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