By Jake Beleski
Drug cheats are a constant problem in the sporting world, and Rathkeale College is doing what it can to ensure its athletes don’t go down that path.
American cyclist Lance Armstrong was arguably the most famous drug cheat of all time, winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times before finally admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs.
A presentation from Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) at Rathkeale College on Tuesday informed the students of the dangers of mixing supplements, medications and recreational drugs with sport.
Scott Tibbutt, chief operating officer for DFSNZ, said the presentation was a student-centred, values-based approach to learning.
“What that means is we don’t necessarily say don’t take this drug or do that, but we concentrate on the values that support that kind of behaviour.”
The students were asked what they classified as cheating, and why some acts were deemed more unsportsmanlike than others.
“It gets them thinking about their values and how they want to be perceived,” he said.
“The reason we do that is because international research is showing that is how you’re going to get a better outcome down the track.”
The priority of the presentation was to ensure that when athletes made high performance teams and were potentially faced with a decision to dope, it would be so abhorrent to them that they wouldn’t go anywhere near it.
Supplements were one of the organisation’s biggest concerns, Mr Tibbutt said.
“They’re our number one concern when it comes to inadvertent doping.
“We’re trying to let the students know that they don’t know what is in that product, and even the ingredients label can’t be trusted.”
A food-first approach to nutrition was the best way for athletes to avoid inadvertently taking a prohibited substance, he said.
Even medications — including asthma inhalers — could contain ingredients found on banned substances lists.
It would be naïve to think there were no drug cheats in New Zealand, but it was important to ensure athletes were well informed, he said.
“New Zealand has that 100 per cent clean image and attitude, and that culture is what we’re trying to protect.
“We don’t want to end up in a situation where it’s almost the norm to dope, like some other countries.”
Rathkeale College first XV rugby player Rory McKee said the presentation was invaluable.
“It really opened my eyes . . . I didn’t know a lot of the stuff they explained to us.”
Head boy and first XI football player Pranay Singh said it really made them think about values in sport.
“It makes you think about the extent of cheating, and what constitutes cheating.”
Both said they would be cautious around supplement use if they were faced with that decision in the future.
DFSNZ offers a text service where athletes can text the details of their medication to the organisation, and they will find out whether it is prohibited or allowed.