Assurance on ethics in Tasmania

Tasmania has a good record on drugs in sport but money and the urge to win are constant pressures on athletes,  sporting leaders say.

Tasmanian Institute of Sport acting director Geoff Masters said yesterday that he could not recall a positive drug test by an athlete since he joined the organisation in the 1990s, and he only knew of one before then.

The Launceston-based institute has 90 scholarship-holders across 14 disciplines, with the main sports being athletics, basketball, cycling, hockey, rowing, sailing and swimming.

Mr Masters said athletes were frequently tested and the institute had a strong anti-doping stance that included a strong education and awareness component.

He said most athletes were amateurs, although some would turn professional, and money was an important factor.

``If there is a financial inducement to perform, it puts temptation in front of athletes and coaches,'' he said.

``You would be naive to think it does not go on but it is always disappointing when cases are brought out in the open.''

University of Tasmania exercise science senior lecturer James Fell said the TIS had a strong anti-drug culture.

``The level of rigour in use of substances is strong and it's probably a good model,'' Dr Fell said.

``They have virtually a no-supplement policy, so the risk of inadvertent doping is less.''

Dr Fell said the legality of ergogenic aids, or substances that enhanced athletic performance, was not always clear-cut.

For instance, he said caffeine could boost athletic performance in some situations. But while it was not illegal to have a cup of coffee (which contains caffeine) before competing, the issue was more complicated than the stereotype of athletes injecting themselves with substances.

He  agreed that money was a factor -  ``because wherever there is money, there is the temptation to cheat,'' he said.

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