The failure of sports people to know what substances they consume can be career ending.  There are some common sense precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of consuming a banned drug or substance that may not even be performance enhancing.

We list below some ways to avoid the terrible mistake of inadvertently taking a banned substance.

  1. You should always explain your sporting involvement to your Doctor or Pharmacist so they are aware of it when they prescribe or dispense medications.
  2. Be aware of prohibited substances.  A list of prohibited substances is now available on the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency website 
  3. Check the requirements of your sport’s National Federation.
  4. Be aware that medications and/or supplements can contain prohibited substances even if they are not on the label.
  5. Avoid any supplements that claim you can lose weight quickly or bulk up quickly as these will often contain stimulants (weight reduction) or anabolic agents (bulk producing).
  6. Contact the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency hotline on 0800 378 437, or fill out their online form.  With prescription drugs they can tell you exactly whether they contain any banned substance.  For supplements they can tell you whether any of the listed ingredients are on the banned list.

The recent case of three time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is a good example of how athletes should remain vigilant about what they consume.  Contador was cleared of drug allegations after a miniscule amount of a banned substance was found in his system during tests. He claimed the substance was consumed after his food was contaminated. 

The inadvertent consumption of banned drugs in over the counter and prescription medications, and in other situations, is an increasing possibility.  The consequences of inadvertently taking a banned substance can be severe.

The New Zealand Sports Drug Agency was established to oversee the testing of athletes and to determine whether an athlete has taken a banned substance.  Where a positive determination is made the relevant National Sporting Organisation is notified.  The allegation is then referred to the Sport’s Tribunal or the relevant National Sporting Organisations equivalent.

The grounds for appealing a decision of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency are very limited and therefore great care should be taken before taking any substance which could be banned.