New Zealand Rugby and the Players’ Association have embarked on an initiative whereby all role players in the game will be tested for illicit drugs.
As part of the collective agreement which was announced on Wednesday, players, coaches and administrators will face random out-of-competition testing for recreational substances.
Previously, players were tested only on match days.
The agreement will not be punitive, however, and does not have defined sanctions for even repeat offenders. Instead, the aim is to help those with a problem and ensure they can continue to enjoy their rugby careers.
“It’s not about catching and sanctioning,” Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol told the New Zealand Herald.
“If someone is struggling in this particular area, either through a positive test or putting their hand up or other information that brings a problem to light, then it’s about support and rehabilitation.
“And provided individuals who are in that situation embrace that opportunity to get things sorted, they’ll be given a lot of support to sort it out.
“We just think it would be really sad if a player lost their career because they got tied up in illicit drugs, whether that manifested itself in criminal action and consequences or they actually tested positive on game day and breached the [World Anti-Doping Agency] code.”