Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Drugs In Sport (2013)

Just recently the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), in conjunction with an investigation by Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency (ASADA) found widespread details of performance enhancing and match fixing in AFL and NRL in particular but didn't rule out it's involvement in Cricket, A-League, Rugby Union and any other professional sport in Australia.

The investigations began upon claims of suspicious treatments by Sports scientists at Essendon. The same people had also previously worked with several NRL clubs, most notably Manly.

The first code CEO to speak out was Andrew Demetriou (AFL) and he spoke at length about his shock upon hearing the news.

Sentiments that were echoed by CEO's of the every other professional sporting body implicated by the investigations.

These sentiments were actually what shocked me the most. Australia has a proud history of being fair, passionate and competitive sportspeople, however cheating and allegations of such have been around for quite a while as well.

Just off the top of my head we had reports of drug use by Wendell Sailor when he was with Rugby Union, Craig Field, Kevin McGuinness, Robbie O'Davis, Adam MacDougall, Andrew Johns, Wayne Richards and Danny Wicks all guilty of using drugs from the NRL (some performance enhancing), Ben Cousins' many battles with drugs in the AFL as well as the speculations surrounding match fixing, including Shane Warne and Mark Waugh in the mid 90's while they were playing cricket for Australia, AFL Umpires and Ryan Tandy from the NR in more recent times..

And these are just off the top of my head.

How any code can be shocked or surprised says to me that all codes have become complacent in their policing of drug use and match fixing, or were in the know but didn't want the endless scrutinity and bad press that comes from revealing such transgressions, so they stayed quiet.

AFL's abysmal three strikes policy on drugs is hardly helping the cause either. Any professional athlete in any code in this country should be banned for life if found guilty of using any illegal drugs, performance enhancing or not. These people are role models, whether they want to be or not, and so they must act like them.

NRL's reluctance in the past to act consistently and swiftly has done nothing to improve the situation in their code either.

Cricket is still suffering immensely from match fixing and with the excessive contracts players get in the IPL (Indian Twenty 20 cricket competition), it's only going to get worse and harder to pinpoint.

It's time the codes stopped acting like the naive, unknowing organisations they are and start taking a hard line approach.

The NRL and AFL are in serious battles to retain credibility, given how last year Andrew Johns was named an immortal despite revealing he had taken recreational drugs throughout his career, while Jobe Watson from Essendon was awarded the best and fairest player of the year award in the AFL - The Brownlow Medal, just last year.

My greatest fear is that officials from both NRL and AFL knew of breaches by players but refused to say anything. This would be the biggest problem to stem from these scandals, moreso than of any wrongdoing by players/clubs.

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