Netball at ease as Super Rugby sides rein in pills

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 10:04 23/03/2014

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Super rugby teams have begun addressing concerns around the use of prescription medication and, while Netball New Zealand has not uncovered any issues, it admits there is a need for more consistent policies.

In the past month, Blues chief executive Michael Redman and team doctor Steven Kara have reinforced protocols and outlined disciplinary action if prescription medication is not used for intended purposes.

Abusing prescription medication, particularly sleeping pills, has been a hot topic after revelations Kiwis players and All Blacks employed the practice in their last World Cup campaigns.

The NRL will now test all players for two types of prescription medication, as well as illicit drugs.

"We've jumped on the issue pretty quick," Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said. "New Zealand Rugby League is leading the way and trying to get to the bottom of it. There's definitely an issue there. As leaders, we need to make sure we give the guys the right information and they make good decisions."

Netball New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole said she was not aware of any specific cases.

"As a sport we want to be as safe as possible. It's something I look forward to discussing with the (franchise) CEOs. It would make sense that we had a consistent approach."

In the Silver Ferns' environment, there is a complete alcohol ban during tournaments and series, Poole said. High Performance Sport New Zealand doctor Mark Fulcher also oversaw and monitored any distribution of prescription medication.

"Sleeping pills are prescribed, but only on a situational basis," Poole said. "It's only done once they are in their room and retired for the night. We actually offer melatonin, a natural substance, first. Our use of sleeping pills is very minimal. It's also recorded and monitored."

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