21 Mar 2014

NZRU surveying players over pills

12:45 pm on 21 March 2014

The New Zealand Rugby Union is to survey New Zealand teams in a bid to find out just how widespread the abuse of sleeping pills is.

The NZRU admitted on Thursday that All Blacks Cory Jane and Israel Dagg mixed the drugs with alcohol on a night out, three days before the All Blacks' 2011 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Investigations by Radio New Zealand Sport indicate that while the abuse of prescription drugs may not be widespread it's more prevalent than NZRU chief executive Steve Tew may realise.

Mr Tew maintains it'd be impossible for players to stockpile sleeping pills prescribed by team doctors as they're allocated carefully.

But he says players could be obtaining the pills outside the team environment.

High Performance Sport New Zealand says there's a danger the NZRU won't get an accurate assessment of prescription drug abuse from its survey.

Chief executive Alex Baumann says with a formal survey there's a possibility players may not respond accurately, even if it's anonymous.

Blues coach and former All Black Sir John Kirwan says he hasn't encountered players abusing sleeping pills in his coaching career but says it's clearly a problem in the game.

Kirwan says the Blues have spoken to the players about the issue.

Bike New Zealand doesn't believe any of its cyclists have ever mixed sleeping pills with alcohol and energy drinks and says it has a no tolerance policy to prescription drugs.

Its high performance manager Mark Elliot says considering cycling's history of illegal doping, stringent policies were put in place to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs more than two years ago.