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South Pacific: New Zealand Sports Drug Tests Snag Mainly Marijuana Smokers

The athletic drug testing regime in New Zealand continues to detect primarily marijuana users, according to the latest annual report from Drug Free Sports New Zealand (DFNZ), the quasi-governmental agency in charge of sports drug testing in the South Pacific island nation. Of some 1,262 athletes tested in the year prior to June 30, a paltry 15 of them -- or slightly more than one-tenth of one percent -- tested positive for any banned substance, and 10 of them tested positive for marijuana. Both the paltry positive result rate and the snagging of pot-smokers are in line with previous years.

DFNZ executive director Graeme Steel told the New Zealand Press Association that marijuana was not a performance-enhancing substance like steroids and complained that positive tests for marijuana were taking up DFNZ resources. "Cannabis remains a singular challenge to both the testing and education programs," he said. "We have continued to argue that the nature of cannabis use is such that it should not be lumped in with performance-enhancing substance use."

Steel said DFNZ was working with sports associations and players' groups to educate them about how long marijuana can stay in their systems. If such groups were aware of marijuana metabolites' staying power, perhaps the agency wouldn't have to waste its time and resources on the herb, he suggested. "Our efforts to respond to the challenge posed by the inclusion of cannabis on the list continue to require a very high proportion of our resources."

Of the five athletes' drug tests that came back positive for substances other than marijuana, four were for anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and one was for epinephrine in power lifting.

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Cannabis and Performance?

Marijuana's been enhancing my performance since I took it up. Long may it continue!

performance-enhancing cannabis

The sports authorities find themselves under the cleft stick. To categorize cannabis as a banned substance places it in the same set as performance-enhancing substances like anabolic steroids and imparts a cachet that would be out of step with the popular portrayal of reefer smokers as a class of unmotivated, lazy and unproductive ciphers. So they have taken the easy way out and have decided to ignore it. If only the law enforcement would follow that excellent example and let the shiftless bunch of heads just sit around and smoke and stay away from the playing fields.

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