Kiwis side to sign code of conduct on drug use

Last updated 07:03 20/03/2014
Tony Iro
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AWARE: Tony Iro, the Kiwis' manager, says he's long been aware of the practice of mixing sedatives with energy drinks.

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Kiwi rugby league players will be required to sign a code of conduct before this year's Anzac test allowing them to be tested for prescription drug abuse, and penalised if caught out.

This comes as the NRL yesterday announced it would be testing all players for the presence of sleeping pills and sedatives, including the much maligned sleeping aid Stilnox.

It follows allegations of prescription drug abuse by some Kiwi's players at last year's world cup and a subsequent review.

The move by New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) to include the tests in the code of conduct for test players puts them at the forefront of dealing with an issue which has been plaguing rugby league.

Warriors' doctor John Mayhew told ABC TV this week he believed, having spoken with players and medical staff from other clubs, that "cocktailing" where prescription drugs were mixed with energy drinks was widespread.

"Basically they get a high and it doesn't contravene any of the existing drug testing protocols," Mayhew told ABC.

NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle, the former head of the NZRL, said test results from NRL players this year would be used to assess if there was a problem. The tests would come as part of routine urine tests for illicit drug use.

"We want to find out if we do have a problem with prescription drugs in rugby league because, at present, there is only anecdotal evidence.

"By the end of the year we will know if prescription drugs are being abused in our game and we can take steps to remedy the problem.

"If there is a problem the NRL may decide to impose sanctions for the abuse of prescription drugs." Doyle said the NRL would intervene to assist and counsel anyone recording a positive test for prescription drugs this year.

"We want to convince anyone who abuses these drugs that it is a dangerous practice and assist them to stop."

Tony Iro, the NZRL's high performance manager, said players consulted about the change to the code of conduct had been "nothing but positive".

Iro said the move by the NRL was a positive step and gave the NZRL stance, which was reached earlier this year, "a bit of a tick".

He said there had been a number of legal issues to work through but the tests were put in place to safeguard the health and safety of players.

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