3 Mar 2014

Rugby union to set up 'integrity unit'

8:51 am on 3 March 2014

The New Zealand Rugby Union plans to set up an integrity unit to combat match fixing and doping.

The union's general manager of professional rugby, Neil Sorensen, says the unit's role will be education, as well as setting policies for dealing with players who breach its rules.

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The NZRU is currently investigating reports of players mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks to get a high without failing drug tests.

Mr Sorensen says that kind of behaviour is a perfect example of what the integrity unit would prevent.

He says the unit will probably not involve a large number of people or professional investigators.

Mr Sorenson says that level of intervention isn't needed in a small country such as New Zealand with little history of corruption in sport. He expects the unit to be operating in six months.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand is welcoming the proposed unit, with chief executive Graeme Steel saying reports of Super Rugby players mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks to get high demonstrates a worrying attitude from professional athletes.

Mr Steel says while the cocktail of caffeine and prescription medications doesn't break doping rules, he's disappointed none the less.