Hayne's Rio dream not dashed by doping rules

Former Australian rugby league player Jarryd Hayne had chosen to quit the NFL to join Fiji’s rugby sevens team in hopes of Olympic glory.
Former Australian rugby league player Jarryd Hayne had chosen to quit the NFL to join Fiji’s rugby sevens team in hopes of Olympic glory. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WELLINGTON • Fiji's Olympic committee sees no impediment to Jarryd Hayne joining the country's rugby sevens team for August's Rio Olympics, even though he has not been subject to World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) accredited testing procedures while playing in the American National Football League (NFL).

The Australian, who played one season for the San Francisco 49ers, said he had chosen to "retire" from the NFL after being approached by the Fiji Rugby Union about making himself available for Rio.

Former Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (Asada) head Richard Ings, however, said in comments widely reported by Australian media that the former rugby league international would be ineligible for the Olympics.

His reasoning was that Hayne would have to be part of a Wada-recognised testing programme for six months before the Aug 5-21 Games.

The NFL has its own anti-doping policy but is not a signatory to the Wada code.

The head of Fiji's Olympic committee said she could not speak about Hayne specifically but said its selection policies did not require athletes to go through an effective six-month stand-down period while they entered the testing programme before representing the country.

"No (there is no requirement). Every athlete who becomes a squad member and then finally a Team Fiji member is aware that at some stage they could be randomly chosen to be drug tested," FOC secretary-general Lorraine Mar said.

"There is no criteria that they have to be tested a number of times. But the athlete needs to be aware they could be drug tested."

Under Article 20 of the Wada code, the only requirement for athletes who have not been "regular members" of a sport - like Hayne - is that they make themselves available for testing and comply with the relevant whereabouts rules.

A similar rule applies to National Olympic Committees. As soon as athletes are identified on their "long list" of entrants for competition, they must be made available for testing.

Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan has welcomed the decision by Hayne to make the switch but said there were no guarantees he would make the final 12-man squad for Rio.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Hayne's Rio dream not dashed by doping rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe