Athletics New Zealand yesterday joined the New Zealand Olympic Committee in imposing a four-year ban from the sport on disgraced pole vaulter Denis Petouchinski.



Petouchinski, 31, who tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid Stanozolol after winning a silver medal at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games last year, has been banned by both bodies until September 2002.



The Commonwealth Games Federation stripped the former Russian athlete of his medal and banned him from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.



Petouchinski's appeal to the Commonwealth Games Federation Court in London in December was unsuccessful.

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The minimum penalty for the offence under IAAF rules is a two-year ban.



However, the ANZ doping committee of convener Geoff Annear, Dr Tony Edwards and Geoff Turner, viewed Petouchinski's offence as a very serious breach of the rules of the sport and said the imposition of a four-year ban reflected such seriousness.



They said other countries in the past two years - Canada, Italy, Cuba and Tunisia - had also imposed penalties of four years for similar doping offences.



ANZ general manager Matt Wynne said the doping committee saw it as an opportunity to display their desire to stamp out performance-enhancing drug use.



Wynne said tighter ANZ testing procedures could be introduced as early as this year's world championships in Seville, Spain.



That would involve testing every team member going away to any international meet.



"Previously every athlete has been on our drug testing list, so therefore on our programme and aware they could be tested," Wynne said.



"But the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency was never going to be able to test everyone, particularly a team as big as the one we sent to Kuala Lumpur. Soon everyone will know they're going to be tested."



After residing in New Zealand for some time, Petouchinski gained national status in time to compete for the Kiwis at the Kuala Lumpur games.



He has not been in contact with ANZ since the CGF ruling but his medal has been returned and passed on to Australian Paul Burgess who finished third in the Kuala Lumpur event.



"While there is no evidence to show that there is a widespread problem with performance enhancing substances in New Zealand, we are nevertheless committed to doing everything within our powers to reaffirm our commitment to a drug-free sport," NZOC chief executive Michael Hooper said yesterday. - NZPA



Pictured: Denis Petouchinski.