Sportsman tests positive; banned 12 months

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 12:56 15/06/2012

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Nutritional supplements have caused another drug ban in New Zealand sport.

Rugby league and touch player Wiremu Takerei is the third Kiwi athlete in 18 months to test positive for the prohibited stimulant methylhexaneamine and be banned by the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand.

Takerei has been slapped with a 12-month ban after he failed a doping test at the national touch championships three months ago.

The incident is less than a year after the tribunal issued an indiscriminate nationwide alarm to Kiwi athletes over the use of nutritional supplements, warning of "disastrous" outcomes.

The tribunal rang alarm bells following swimmer Blair Jacobs becoming the second New Zealander in seven months to be banned over methylhexaneamine - the source of prolific and high-profile drug cases around the world.

The banned stimulant caused Nigerian sprinter Damola Osayemi to be stripped of Commonwealth Games gold in 2010, caused English Premier League footballer Kolo Toure to be banned for six months last year and led to the banning of Springbok rugby duo Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Rapelle.

Takerei cited the use of a supplement called "Jack3d" - the same supplement Jacobs had been using before his ban.

During his hearing Jacobs, who for a number of years has competed at national level, even testified that he knew of other athletes taking "Jack3d".

This supplement, and certain others containing methylhexaneamine are now banned from sale in New Zealand, but education remains a major issue with supplements easily and cheaply available on the internet.

Takerei assumed he was consuming an "energy drink", considered it safe and did not check the ingredients.

The ingredients for "Jack3d" list methylhexaneamine.

By a two-to-one majority, the tribunal panel was satisfied that Takerei did not take methylhexaneamine to enhance his sports performance and was therefore eligible for a lesser penalty than the mandatory punishment of a two-year ban.

The tribunal stated there was a reasonable degree of fault on Takerei, who knew the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs but made no enquiry when the supplement drink was given to him.

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