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Sharapova positive test spooks NZ athletes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/04/2016

The number of New Zealand athletes checking the legality of their medications and supplements has spiked to an all-time high in the wake of tennis star Maria Sharapova's positive test.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel says the DFSNZ website, text service and medication hotline had experienced a fourfold increase in traffic in the month since Russian great Maria Sharapova confessed to taking banned substance meldonium.

Sharapova tested positive to the steroid, which she said she had taken for a decade for medical reasons. She was unaware it had been prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency last year and now faces a potential career-ending ban.

Steel believes Sharapova's fall from grace is behind the escalation in Kiwi athletes checking if they are taking a banned substance.

"It's sad that a famous athlete has been caught out in this way but the good outcome for us is that it has helped get our message across," Steel said.

"It's about education and access to information so that athletes aren't caught unintentionally taking a banned substance which could ultimately affect their health and their careers."

Steel says the responsibility has always resided with athletes but his organisation will do all it can to ensure they have access to the most up to date information.

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