Any sportsperson taking medications, supplements or alternative medicines of any kind should be aware that some of these preparations may contain prohibited substances, or be a prohibited method, which could result in positive anti-doping tests and, ultimately, sanctions.

Some prohibited substances are contained in commonly used prescription medications (e.g. insulin, pseudoephedrine) due to their performance enhancing effects.  As an athlete, it’s important to know what you can and cannot take and whether you may be granted a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) for a medication that you rely upon.

Recreational drugs commonly used in New Zealand are also prohibited under anti-doping codes. These include stimulants (amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy like drugs including MDMA, MDA and MDEA), narcotic analgesics and opiates (heroin, morphine, pethidine).  These drugs have no place in equestrian sports and have no performance enhancing abilities, and in most cases, quite the opposite.

Sport makes physical and mental demands on your body. Recreational drugs are also demanding on you mentally and physically.  Your body is designed to coordinate itself to enable you to perform at your best. Mixing drugs and sport can disrupt your riding in many ways.

Some depressants such as alcohol cause mild anaesthesia or loss of feeling so you may not notice when you’re injured. This can lead to delays in getting rapid treatment and in recovery.

Stimulants such as cocaine and speed can keep you awake so you don’t get the rest you need and this can affect your performance. They also decrease your appetite when you should be replacing calories after using so much energy. Side effects also include confusion, delirium and paranoia. At higher doses stimulants can cause you to become irritable and aggressive, they can also cause blood vessels in the brain to rupture leading to convulsions.

ESNZ is committed to stamping out drug use in equestrian sport and is working with the New Zealand Sports Anti-Doping Authority (Drug Free Sport NZ) to level the playing field for athletes at all levels.

For more information regarding drugs in sport, such as the prohibited substances list, visit the World Anti-Doping Agency site.