WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Fiji’s Olympic committee see no impediment to Jarryd Hayne joining their rugby sevens team for the Rio Games, even though he has not been subject to World Anti-Doping Agency accredited testing procedures while playing in the NFL.
Hayne, who played one season for the San Francisco 49ers, said on Sunday 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-recognized testing program for six months prior to 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 their selection policies did not require athletes to go through an effective six month stand down period while they entered the testing program prior to 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 told Reuters from Suva.
“There is no criteria that they have to be tested a number of times. So that’s not a consideration, but the athlete needs to be aware they could be drug tested.”
Mar said World Rugby could have rules about players being required to be available for drug testing before being allowed to compete.
World Rugby’s Regulation 21, which deals with the anti-doping policy, does not mention a stand-down period for players returning to competition unless they have previously retired or are serving a ban and are in the “registered testing pool”.
The registered testing pool is for players whose behavior was considered ‘high risk’. Such players contemplating a return to competition are required to make themselves available for six months testing beforehand.
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.
The Fiji Rugby Union were unavailable for comment on Monday.
Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan has welcomed the decision by 28-year-old Hayne to make the switch but said there were no guarantees he would make the final 12-man squad for Rio despite his rugby league pedigree.
Hayne is expected to join the Fiji squad in London for this weekend’s final round of the Sevens World Series.
Editing by Nick Mulvenney