Surf life saver suspended for nine months for anti-doping rule violation


The Sports Tribunal has suspended surf life saver John Elsmore for nine months after testing positive for cannabis. Mr Elsmore’s suspension is backdated to 14 March 2020.  Mr Elsmore was tested after winning the Surf Canoe Long Course – Open Male event at the 2020 TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships.

“We know that cannabis is not generally performance-enhancing, but nonetheless it remains on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List. Because cannabis is prohibited in sport, we are required under the current rules to proceed with a case where a positive test for cannabis is received,” said Drug Free Sport New Zealand’s Chief Executive Nick Paterson.  “If you are an athlete, the best way to avoid a positive test is not to use cannabis.”

WADA requires that labs do not report and anti-doping organizations not pursue action against low concentrations of cannabis in an athlete’s sample.  Concentrations under 180 nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL) do not trigger an adverse analytical finding. In this case, Mr Elsmore’s result was 1543 ng/mL.

DFSNZ recommends that all athletes take our Clean Sport 101 course to understand the sports anti-doping rules and help preserve the integrity of sport.