Drugs in sport: Rugby Union to monitor support staff more closely

CLUB rugby in Victoria will monitor support staff within its clubs more closely in the aftermath of revelations that performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have infiltrated Australian sport at the top level.

The Victorian Rugby Union, governing body of community rugby in this state, wants to ensure the use of PEDs does not filter down to the club level or its representative teams.

VRU community rugby manager Charlie Bamford plans to meet with club officials in the lead-up to the 2013 season to discuss a new register that will force clubs to place its medicos on a VRU list.

"Given the recent reports that have been tabled, this will be a topic of discussion and we will be placing an emphasis on the clubs to ensure they are exercising their duty of care in these areas," Bamford told the Weekly.

"We will be asking them to, with the issues we've faced in the last week, register all their medical people so that we are across that."

The VRU is adamant that PEDs are not an issue at club rugby level.

There are strict guidelines in place that players and clubs must adhere to when it comes to the use of banned substances.

"I honestly don't think it's [PEDs] a problem in Victoria [rugby] at all," Bamford said.

"There's always players who look for supplements to improve themselves. Providing those supplements are not on any banned list, good luck to them.

"We've had no recorded cases of that."

The VRU, as an offshoot of the Australian Rugby Union, performs under the guidelines of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA).

The players at all local clubs have to abide by ASADA rules and could be tested for performance enhancing or illicit drugs at any time.

Bamford admitted that tests on VRU players is rare, if at all.

But, he reiterated, they could turn up tomorrow at your local club in preseason or in season.

"ASADA guys can turn up at change rooms, show their badges and perform tests at any time.

"They can select a player if they like or even do a random draw.

"The clubs are aware of that. They quite understand that and it can happen.

"They have to be aware that that's the situation and they need to ensure they are monitoring their players and monitoring their medical and fitness staff to ensure these things are observed."

The VRU will liaise closely with its clubs to strengthen the system.

They do not want PEDs to filter down to the club level.

"I don't think we have an issue," Bamford said.

"It's the level where they're at: they're not professionals, they have jobs, they go home and they want to play as best they can.

"[Some players] might push the barrier. We would hope they don't do those things and we've put out messages with the clubs to keep an eye out for these sort of things to make sure it's not either condoned or enforced.

"We will be looking at ways that we can strengthen the system and improve the system."—Lance Jenkinson

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