No further penalty for Oliver
September 30, 1999
All Blacks hooker Anton Oliver is unlikely to face any further penalty from the New Zealand Rugby Union following a drugs test which proved positive.
Team doctor John Mayhew is also likely to escape any punishment having
prescribed antibiotics and sudomyl for a sinus and ear infection for the
Sudoyml contains the pseudo-ephedrine substance which is banned in excess of
10 micrograms per millilitre. Oliver says that the doctor was not to blame for the incident as he took double the prescribed dosage.
All Blacks team manager Mike Banks received a call from the World Cup
tournament office early on Wednesday evening advising him of the positive results from the random drugs tests.
``We were advised that there was an excess level of a restricted drug, not a banned drug, and that we needed to provide an explanation,'' said Banks.
``Together with the management, we put together a full report and I'm pleased
to say that the report has cleared Anton with the exception of a reprimand. Due to the vagaries of travel, jet lag, etc, Anton did miss a dosage during our flight to England.
``On the first night of arrival he woke in the early hours in a distressed
state, recognised that he had missed taking the prescribed dosage and
unwittingly took a double dosage. He did this knowing full well that he could be one of the players to be drugs tested a matter of hours later.''
When Oliver was tested, along with the another 14 members of the squad, he declared that he was on the medication. The drug is widely available over the counter for head colds and blocked ears.
``Anton was drug tested the following morning, still quite dehydrated from the flight, and he provided a concentrated urine sample which had a higher than expected level of pseudo-ephedrine,'' said Mayhew.
``It was an allowable drug in the dose that he was prescribed and the course of medication started ten days before our first game. The problem is that he took a higher than permitted dose and he couldn't have picked a better time to be drug tested.''
Drugs testing was introduced for the 1991 and 1995 World Cups. But Oliver, the 24-year-old All Blacks pack leader, is the first ever World Cup player to be tested positive.
The team management have still to be advised exactly what level was found in Oliver's sample but it is believed to be double the permitted level. This does not come into the same category as steroids and the maximum penalty that could have been imposed is a three-month suspension.
``Initially when I was told I was pretty shocked because I had no reason to be worried about the results of the test. But when I was told that it could be as a result of the medication, I was relieved,'' said Oliver.
Banks said that they were pleased in the way that the RWC officials dealt with this matter so quickly. He also stressed that in no way was pseudo-ephedrine a performance enhancing drug.
``There was an indication from RWC in the initial statement that we may not be named but we didn't think that was the right process,'' added Banks.
``We took the initiative to ensure that Anton was named and that New Zealand was singled out. It would have been grossly unfair to have a decision which, perhaps, reflected on other teams when in fact we were the offending nation.''
The All Blacks moved into their Bristol hotel yesterday afternoon in
preparation for the opening game against Tonga on Sunday afternoon at Bristol City's Ashton Gate ground.
``This hasn't disrupted our preparations for that game, it was a small blip which we dealt with. It has come to a conclusion as far as we are concerned,'' added Banks.
``The judicial committee has vindicated the actions of Anton and I think that the independent body clearly has given the right decision. The player has