5 Aug 2015

NZ athletes cleaner than most - report

11:54 am on 5 August 2015

New Zealand reportedly has among the fewest athletes using performance enhancing drugs in the world.

A database alleged to show widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in the sport of athletics is reported to list New Zealand as one of the countries with the fewest athletes who recorded abnormal blood test results.

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Photo: AFP

The leaked blood tests from 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012 are said to show 800 had suspicious results - that's about a third.

But the AAP news agency reports New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, and Serbia had the fewest competitors with such test results.

One of the doping experts who analysed the blood samples from the world's top endurance runners said at some events all of those taking the podium recorded suspicious tests.

Australian doping expert Robin Parisotto reviewed the data of the tests, held by the world athletics' governing body, the IAAF, and he said for some athletes there's no disputing the fact they were cheating.

"There are many other factors that may influence a blood test result but in many, many cases - even considering those factors - you could not come to any other conclusion other than the fact that they'd been blood doping."

Parisotto said persistent blood dopers were risking their lives and he pointed to the deaths of 20 professional cyclists who doped.

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said his organisation will act with zero tolerance if any Olympic results show athletes affected by doping.

Drug cheats won't make performance programmes irrelevant

Meanwhile, High Performance Sport NZ believes a national high performance programme remains relevant despite fears of widespread doping.

The Sunday Times and a German broadcaster obtained access to the results, reportedly showing around a third of the medals for endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships were won by athletes who recorded suspicious tests.

HPSNZ oversees the $60 million of targeted funding for New Zealand's elite athletes and chief executive Alex Baumann - who won two gold medals for Canada in the pool at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics - doesn't believe high performance programmes are becoming irrelevant amidst the on going battle against doping.

CEO of High Performance Sport NZ Alex Baumann (right) and Prince Harry take a tour of the AUT Millenium Institute in Auckland.

CEO of High Performance Sport NZ Alex Baumann (right) and Prince Harry take a tour of the AUT Millenium Institute in Auckland. Photo: Photosport

"It is a challenge no doubt but I still believe there's been a considerable amount of progress over the years. It is always a cat and mouse game we play with trying to ensure you catch doping cheats but I think it's important we try and keep the integrity issues out there and being talked about."

Baumann was confident there was no systemic doping within New Zealand high performance sport in the wake of a 2013 investigation, which happened after concerns in Australia.

"It's very critical that we have strong anti-doping programmes in place... but I still believe there is always going to be cheating when you are dealing wtih (the) Olympic Games," he said. "I mean it happens in society so why wouldn't it happen in sport?"

"The 2013 report into integrity issues found no evidence of systemic doping in New Zealand sport but that's not to assume there may (not) be athletes who may try to take (performance) enhancing drugs (so) we do have to be vigilant."

And Lord Sebastian Coe, a candidate to run world athletic's governing body, said the organisation took the doping allegations extremely seriously.

Lord Coe, a former British Olympic athlete, is bidding to become president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, and has been an outspoken campaigner against doping.

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