31 Aug 2015

Sports Drug Agency wary of traditional remedies

2:16 pm on 31 August 2015

The New Zealand Sports Drug Agency is warning top athletes to be careful about using traditional remedies despite All Black Waisake Naholo crediting them for his recovery from a leg injury.

Naholo, who was told by doctors he'd be out for three months after he fractured his leg in his test debut against Argentina in July, was one of the major talking points in the World Cup squad named yesterday.

Naholo credits a Fijian folk healer for his recovery.

Waisake Naholo on the burst during his test debut against Argentina.

Waisake Naholo on the burst during his test debut against Argentina. Photo: Photosport

Naholo returned to his village in Fiji for treatment, where a healer used massage and applied kawakawarau leaves to his injury, apparently enabling him to walk on it again after six days.

The head of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency Dr Graeme Steel says traditional remedies have previously contained banned substances.

"We don't know what's in some of these traditional medicines so from that point of view where there is an unknown there is some risk involved," said Dr Steel.

The chief executive of Drug Free Sport New Zealand, Graeme Steel.

Dr Graeme Steel. Photo: Supplied

"(However) the environment they are in, the All Blacks, is pretty heavily controlled and I'm sure, or I would certainly hope the team doctor would have been well aware of what was going on and anything that was taken and would have come to us if he felt there was any problem."

Dr Steel said athletes also get plenty of advice of about what they should and should not be taking.

"They have it drummed in to them these days that they need to be extremely careful about anything they take and traditional medicines have been areas of concern."

The Highlanders wing is expected to be available for the All Blacks third pool game against Georgia in early October.

The World Cup kicks off on 19 September.

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