Drug-free message

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Drug-free message . . . Drug Free Sport New Zealand educator Leanne Mason shared the drug-free message with Rangiora High School students last week. Photo: David Hill

By DAVID HILL

Fresh fruit and vegetables have been described as the best performance enhancers for young athletes.

Rangiora High School students were advised to stick to healthy food rather than supplements or drugs to get a performance boost, during a presentation by Drug Free Sport New Zealand educator Leanne Mason last week.

She says random drug testing of young sports people can be required at sports events without warning, so she advised students to be aware of medications or supplements they may be asked to take and what ingredients they may contain.

Athletes who refuse to provide a supervised urine sample for a drugs test can receive an automatic 18-month ban.

Students were shown a video of young Scottish rugby player Sam Chalmers, who was banned for two years in 2013 after testing positive for methandienone and stanozolol at the age of 19, after feeling the pressure to “bulk up” because he was constantly told he was too small.

“Young people do face a lot of pressures to get bigger, fitter, faster. But they also need to be aware of what they are consuming,” Ms Mason says.

She says there are no regulations for sports supplements, so there is no way of knowing if the labelling is genuine and young people should seek expert advice or avoid taking supplements altogether.

Even medications such as salbutamol (an inhaler for asthma), ritalin, pseudoephedrine or erythropoietin (EPO) can produce a positive drug test.

“Your health is the most important thing, so get the treatment you need,” Ms Mason says.

“But you also need to inform your medical professional that you are an athlete and that you could be drug tested.”

Athletes can ask for a therapeutic use exemption if they are required to take medication “for a genuine medical reason”. Forms are available on the Drug Free Sport New Zealand website.

Year 13 student Jordan Haywood, aged 17, is in training for the Maadi Cup rowing regatta and plays rugby for the school.

While he has never been drugs tested, “we’ve had this chat within the (rowing) club”.

“I don’t need supplements or sports drinks. I just stick to meat, fruit and vegetables,” he says.

Young athletes needing advice can text the name of a medication or supplement to 4365, or go to the Drug Free Sport New Zealand website.