A prominent Manawatu sporting figure has blamed the recently uncovered sporting drug culture in Australia on the proliferation of sport supplement use, and says it would be naive to believe similar things were not happening in New Zealand.
Australia has been rocked by an Australian Crime Commission report that revealed widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs, match-fixing and links to organised crime in a variety of codes.
The report has implications for New Zealand sport simply because of the close relationship between the two countries.
Former Australian cyclist Steve Stannard, who is the head of Massey University's School of Sport, said he was surprised to hear about the heights doping in Australian sport had risen to, although there were whispers of it occurring when he was competing across the ditch 20 years ago.
Stannard said the rise in Australia's doping culture had come about side-by-side with the supplement-promoted desire to get bigger and recover faster, something which has also taken off in New Zealand.
"One of the things I am adamant about is that people training these days have this perception that they need to take supplements to get ahead.
"I had a father come up to me not long ago and his 13-year-old daughter was playing netball and he said to me ‘What sort of creatine should I give her?'.
"That sort of thing is crazy.
"Today there seems to be an environment in sport that encourages them [supplements] and I'm not happy with that."
Stannard said the promotion of supplements of any sort was dangerous, whether they were safe or not.
Steroids had been known to be available in supplements sold in stores and he would recommend people were very careful, particularly when importing them online.
The revelation that athletes were using peptides among other things was alarming, because they often could not be found in drug testing.
"This [drug use] hasn't been uncovered through positive testing. These guys are only getting caught because of investigations at customs.
"That is scary.
"It would be naive to say it's not happening in New Zealand and we have to keep a really good eye out."
Palmerston North man Craig Durston, who owns supplement chainstore ASN Nutrition, said it was "laughable" to blame Australian steroid culture on the growth of the supplement culture.
"You might as well blame professional sport on the problem.
"For these athletes today, it's all about getting paid and they will take the fastest way they can to the top and that's steroids.
"To relate that in any way to healthy supplement use is just stupid."
Better education was needed for players and those who comment on sport about the difference between supplements and steroids, he said.
"Everything we are bringing into our stores is coming through rigorous testing as well as safety checks.
"I'm not saying these things don't creep through into some products - like when the Health Ministry changed the laws on party pills, we had to take those products out and we did straight away," Mr Durston said.
Single-person online importing of supplements was more dangerous, but that problem could easily be solved through education.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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