Australian sport is in turmoil after reports of widespread
drug use and links to organised crime, but Drug Free Sport
New Zealand says the problem has not necessarily crossed the
A 12-month Australian Crime Commission (ACC) investigation
into the integrity of professional sport culminated today
with the release of a damning report, the implications of
which certainly stretch to Kiwi athletes.
With several New Zealand teams participating in trans-Tasman
competitions and a number of Kiwis on the books of Australian
clubs, local links are easy to find.
The NRL and A-League, in which the New Zealand Warriors and
Wellington Phoenix respectively compete, were among the codes
embroiled in what has been dubbed the darkest day in
And with the ties between the two countries' athletes
stretching beyond the involvement of those teams, it would be
naive to suggest performance enhancing drugs are prevalent in
Australia but are yet to provide problems on this side of the
Drug Free Sport NZ chief executive Graeme Steel said the
organisation was very concerned about the findings emerging
from Australia, but he was wary of labelling Kiwi athletes as
guilty by association.
"It's not natural to think that but, at the same time, we
can't dismiss that possibility and we'll need to consider
what we need to do to investigate it," he said.
Mr Steel said he had not heard of any suggestion New Zealand
clubs in trans-Tasman competitions were being specifically
targeted, but he called it "a space we need to watch".
Of more immediate concern could be the fate of the Kiwi
contingent at the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
National representatives Kieran Foran and Steve Matai are
among the New Zealanders plying their trade at the rugby
league club, which is currently being audited by an
accounting firm instructed by the NRL to investigate their
records of supplement purchases.
Players at Manly were provided supplements by Stephen Drank
between 2006 and 2010, a sports scientist sacked by Aussie
Rules side Essendon and currently under investigation by the
ACC. The club, whose chief executive Ian Robson was formerly
the Warriors' boss, earlier this week announced they had
volunteered doping records to the Australian Sport
The substance at the centre of the Essendon scandal was
peptides, a chain of amino acids which can signal the brain
to release human growth hormone.
Mr Steel was reluctant to discuss whether peptides were an
issue in New Zealand, while no one from Sport New Zealand was
available to comment until they had read the full ACC report,
which is available online.
Today's news comes hot on the heels of Lance Armstrong's
wide-ranging confession, testimony in a Spanish doping trial
casting aspersions on footballers and tennis players, and
continual doping infringements in American sport.
Rather than being a negative, though, Mr Steel said these
repeated blows to sport's credibility were a sign anti-doping
authorities were slowly winning the war on performance
"I think this is evidence at what previously may have been
undiscovered is now being discovered.
"We've had numerous examples in recent times of things which
previously would have just flown under the radar with just a
straight testing programme, but evidence is emerging from
other sources of doping.
"So I think this is evidence that we're getting closer to
getting on top of it."
- Kris Shannon of APNZ