Sup­ple­ments ca­reer risk

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAUREN PRIESTLEY

THE BOOM­ING fit­ness sup­ple­ment in­dus­try is a mine­field for New Zealand young­sters look­ing at a ca­reer in sport, ex­perts say.

Auck­land Col­lege Sport chief ex­ec­u­tive Manoj Daji says bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion about per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs is needed at the grass­roots level.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion was given board ap­proval last week to start pi­lot ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes in schools with Drug Free Sport NZ in 2014.

Mr Daji says Aus­tralian school sport has come un­der the mi­cro­scope this year with two high school stu­dents be­ing ex­pelled in May for us­ing steroids.

The World Anti-Dop­ing Agency re­sponded by call­ing for a ramp-up of ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives in Aus­tralia and stu­dents here should be given the same con­sid­er­a­tion, Mr Daji says.

‘‘It’s not at that point with us yet but who knows?

‘‘Wher­ever sport in a coun­try is big busi­ness then why wouldn’t ed­u­ca­tion around this type of thing be im­por­tant?’’

Mr Daji re­cently coached an un­der-13 rep­re­sen­ta­tive team and saw young­sters be­ing fed pro­tein shakes, sports drinks and en­ergy bars un­der the guise of per­for­mance en­hance­ment at the com­pe­ti­tion.

The play­ers were only on the field for a max­i­mum of 50 min­utes, he says.

‘‘There’s a real se­ri­ous­ness at that over­level. Peo­ple are look­ing at what’s be­ing done in top level in­ter­na­tional teams and say that’s what we need to be do­ing.’’

Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School di­rec­tor of sport David Long says ed­u­ca­tion around drug use is an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in the school’s academy pro­gramme.

‘‘There are stu­dents now who are mov­ing straight from sec­ondary school to NRL clubs.

‘‘If you’re a nat­u­rally gifted sports­man and we haven’t done our job to pre- pare you for the pro­fes­sional world then it’s a prob­lem,’’ Mr Long says. ‘‘ We feel like we’re a step­ping stone but we’re still a sec­ondary school.’’

Mr Long says most stu­dents play­ing sport in New Zealand don’t have the money to buy sup­ple­ments.

He doesn’t think per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs are a huge is­sue here in com­par­i­son to Aus­tralia.

‘‘Most of my guys at school are drink­ing elec­trolytes or wa­ter.

‘‘That’s as far as it goes,’’ he says.

Drug Free Sport NZ ed­u­ca­tion man­ager Maia Jack­man says sup­ple­ments are a real dan­ger to young ath­letes.

There are no reg­u­la­tions around the sub­stances used in the prod­ucts, which can lead to in­ad­ver­tent dop­ing, the Block­house Bay woman says.

‘‘It’s such a big mine­field for ath­letes that we pretty much tell them to stay away com­pletely. You’re risk­ing your ca­reer.

‘‘Is that drink be­fore you work out re­ally worth it?’’ Miss Jack­man is a for­mer pro­fes­sional foot­ball player and is pas­sion­ate about chang­ing the mind­set of fu­ture ath­letes.

The bil­lion-dol­lar sup­ple­ment in­dus­try has grown rapidly since 2010 to the point where prod­ucts line whole su­per­mar­ket aisles un­der the ban­ner of health food, she says.

‘‘They’re just so read­ily avail­able. Peo­ple don’t know what is in them. They think it’s good for them be­cause it comes from a su­per­mar­ket.’’ Drug Free Sport NZ is cur­rently re­search­ing what stu­dents and schools think is hap­pen­ing in the sec­ondary sport world which will al­low the or­gan­i­sa­tion to de­velop fu­ture ed­u­ca­tion plans.

‘‘We want to be the fence at the top of the hill rather than the am­bu­lance at the bot­tom,’’ she says.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT.CO.NZ

Say no: Maia Jack­man says sports sup­ple­ments are a ca­reer risk for ath­letes.

Un­der con­trol: David Long says the Kiwi school sport­ing scene is not at the same level as Aus­tralia.

Start early: Manoj Daji says ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives should start at grass­roots.

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