Powerlifter gets anti-doping ban for Ritalin

This article is from the archives. Drug Free Sport New Zealand has now transitioned into the Sport Integrity Commission Te Kahu Raunui.

The Sport Tribunal of New Zealand has banned powerlifter Chris Kennedy from sport for two years after a positive test for Ritalin (methylphenidate metabolite ritalinic acid) at the NZ Powerlifting Foundation Nationals in September 2023.

Ritalin is a prescription-only substance used to treat ADHD and is banned in-competition*. Although it is permitted to take Ritalin before or after the day of a competition, athletes must not have the substance in their system during competition unless they have a Therapeutic Use Exemption.

Mr Kennedy submitted that he took Ritalin three days before Nationals to manage undiagnosed ADHD symptoms and not to cheat at sport. Despite this, the Ritalin was still present in his system during the competition.

DFSNZ Chief Executive Nick Paterson said he was frustrated at seeing an athlete self-medicate given the serious consequences it can have. 

“Not only is it a danger to your health to take prescription-only substances without doctor’s supervision, instruction, or diagnosis, it leaves an athlete exposed to the risk of taking a prohibited substance and receiving a ban, as we see here.

“Mr Kennedy may have had no intention to cheat, but he was reckless in his approach to his health and sport and did a disservice to his competitors as he competed with an unfair advantage.

“The athlete is always responsible for what is in their system, and when it is there.”

Mr Paterson added a reminder to all athletes that an anti-doping ban can have broader consequences than simply a ban from sport.

“There are strict rules against athletes participating in sport during a provisional suspension or ban. That includes coaching or training other athletes. This case is a reminder that a ban from sport, can impact more than their ability to take part, but also to coach, train and volunteer.”

Read the Sports Tribunal decision.