NRL medical officer calls for a supplement ban

Last updated 19:39 05/12/2013

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The NRL's leading medico has called for supplements to be banned from rugby league.

In the wake of the scandal that engulfed the code this year, the game's governing body this week moved to tighten regulations in regard to supplement use.

But the game's chief medical officer Ron Muratore says the NRL has not gone far enough and has called for the controversial aids to be prohibited.

"If I had my way, supplements would be banned," Muratore told AAP on Thursday.

"We should say supplements aren't allowed. It is better and more beneficial to manipulate your diet.

"I would like to see more education given to players on how to manipulate their diets.

"To work out what to eat and exactly when to eat it too, whether it is before or after training or pre or post game.

"Sally Pearson doesn't take any supplements and she is a world champion.

"She is aware of what she needs to do, what she should be eating and when ... and she is a world beater.

"It takes a lot more discipline and more awareness and that is the problem; it is far easier to just take a protein shake."

Muratore said he had floated his proposal with the NRL but it was unlikely it would take hold.

"They know what I think, but what do I know," he said.

"I'm a dinosaur in this sports science era. Everybody laughs at me.

"But I have seen a lot of studies, there are a lot of studies in British medical journals and none of them conclusively say that supplements can help.

"There is no conclusive proof that they do make a difference. You are far better off working on your diet.

"But the clubs don't want to ban them because it is too hard and because they are sponsored by supplements companies and they don't want to lose that income."

Under the new guidelines introduced on Wednesday, all clubs are required to form a supplement committee that oversees the distribution of supplements, provide the NRL with a list of approved supplements and maintain a register of use.

The new rules are a strong response to the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority's ongoing investigation into Cronulla's 2011 supplements program and queries into other NRL clubs.

Muratore said the NRL's new medical guidelines would help to prevent what occurred with Cronulla happening again but not eliminate the chance of further dramas.

"They are a step in the right direction," he said.

"The idea is to give more control to club doctors. It will make things a lot safer.

"You are always going to get people knocking on your door (at clubs) promising to bring you something better and these new guidelines are an important safeguard.

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"But it doesn't stop that player going outside the club ... meeting with someone outside the club who is promising that edge, who is promising that something extra to help them."

- AAP

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