NZOC President Mike Stanley was part of the Integrity Committee responsible for recommending the changes ©NZOC

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has strengthened its integrity requirements for athletes and national bodies in an attempt to protect clean sport.

Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, NZOC has made significant changes to its Integrity Regulation.

It claims the amendments give better protection to whistleblowers, more effective doping sanctions and increased corruption-reporting guidelines for both sports organisations and athletes.

The new obligations will apply to the NZOC and its 57 member federations.

The changes are in relation to the revised World Anti-Doping Code, which will come into force in January 2021, as well as the recent amendments to the Olympic Movement Code for the Manipulation of Competitions.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee chairman and NZOC Athletes' Commission and Integrity Committee member Ben Sandford said the new regulations will better protect clean athletes.

"The 2021 Code is a significant step forward for athletes, there are a lot of improvements particularly around athletes' rights," Sandford said.

"In New Zealand, we continue to lead the way in our stand against doping and I'm extremely pleased the NZOC is completely onboard."

The NZOC Integrity Regulation will also demand high standards to be maintained by all directors, employees and members of support teams.

It will require member federations to reinforce their own obligation to report corruption, while athletes must report any anti-doping violations they are aware of.

The use of recreational drugs, such as cannabis, will be sanctioned more leniently in line with the new WADA Code.

NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith says the changes "underscore our commitment, our athletes commitment, and our national sporting organisations commitment to ensure we're doing all we can in the fight against doping and sport corruption at every level".

Smith added: "We know that doping and corruption is a huge problem internationally, so we've drawn on our international connections and expertise to make sure we're leading from the front and doing everything we can to eradicate these practices and educate our athletes.

"We acknowledge the important role of Drug Free Sport NZ and thank them for their ongoing efforts to protect our athletes.

"We look forward to continuing to work with them, the relevant international bodies to ensure compliance in New Zealand."

Changes to the Integrity Regulation were recommended by the NZOC Integrity Committee, comprised of Sandford, NZOC President Mike Stanley and Board members Maria Clarke and Liz Dawson.

Drug Free Sport NZ currently lists 23 New Zealand athletes as serving bans, with seven sanctioned in 2019 and 12 of them rugby union players.