Head coach Gordon Tietjens says his New Zealand Sevens rugby team are all under close scrutiny when it comes to doping and nutritional supplements.
With the 2016 Olympic Games dream of Kiwi women's rugby sevens player Lavinia Gould's hanging by a thread after the International Rugby Board yesterday announced a two-year doping ban, Tietjens says his gold medal favourites are on top of the situation.
Gould, who will be eligible to re-enter the sport in January 2015, came unstuck after testing positive for banned stimulant methylhexaneamine while playing for New Zealand at the Dubai sevens late last year.
Based on the judicial decision document released by the IRB, Gould, was the victim of a contaminated spoon - sharing a mixing spoon with her sister to make drinks, who was openly using a supplement known to contain methylhexaneamine.
The development is the second, high-profile unwitting doping case in New Zealand in a matter of weeks, following international cricketer Jesse Ryder being banned for six months for unwittingly ingesting banned substances through a weight-loss supplement he thought was safe.
In an interview with Faifax Media yesterday, Tietjens said he has nothing to do with the national women's team, but gave an assurance that the players in his men's squad are monitored very closely in regards to what they put in their mouths.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew announced the decision in Paris today and said he hoped the case sent out a strong warning to all New Zealand athletes who use supplements.
"It just reinforces how careful the athletes have to be across all sport," said Tew, admitting he was disappointed rugby's outstanding record in this area had been compromised.
"They're all taking supplements of some description and they've all got to be very, very careful because the regulation of supplements is nowhere near as strict as it is for medication.
"There is a risk, and it's definitely a conversation round the word of sport. Unfortunately we've now had first-hand experience of it."
Tew confirmed Gould claimed she had taken the banned substance unwittingly and it had been a genuine mistake.
"Lavinia has defended herself, saying her supplement was contaminated. We have no reason to disbelieve that, and her minimum suspension is a pretty good indication they also believe it was a mistake rather than anything deliberate," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News