Forget the push and shove after a few beers, forget public urination, and forget sex toys: the biggest dickhead this season has to be the Sharks’ Reni Maitua.
In the past I’ve often felt the need to defend our sporting stars who I have have been victims of a hysterical public and overly judgmental media. But I draw the line at drug cheats.
Strangely, the Maitua case seems to have been treated as fairly run of the mill, while the headlines scream about shadow boxing CEOs (weird?) and hookers in the change room (even weirder).
While it’s unlikely to split public opinion, as drugs in sport tends to be one of the strongest motherhood statements around, except from the odd weirdo who watches too much cycling, just how big a clanger Reni Maitua has dropped needs to be mentioned.
It is worth recalling that many thought the sacking of Maitua from the Bulldogs was actually an error. They are pretty quiet now.
But once getting the boot, Maitua gave a few interviews where he talked about the need to get a settlement because of all his investments that his money was currently tied up in.
At the time I chuckled about him having one expensive hangover and how perhaps he should have considered his portfolio before a. having yet another bender b. switching off the alarm.
But if he is motivated by the retention of a positive yield on his investments, then what sort of advice did he listen to decide to load up on Clenbuterol. It doesn’t sound like the sort Warren Buffet hands out or you get at those swanky business breakfasts.
But for all the misbehaviour, performance enhancing drugs is probably one that the NRL must truly make a tougher than tough stand on as it eats away at the very core of what sport is all about.
The gladiatorial nature of sport is attractive because it is man on man, not man against man with half a chemist’s cabinet up his snout.
And while things like having a wee behind a tree or misbehaving in bar can be linked to poor behaviour in the wider society, you don’t see mums on holiday in Thailand loading up on steroids. Performing enhancing drugs aren’t about letting off steam or high jinx, it is about cheating.
That’s why if his B-sample is positive, then Maitua should face a life ban from the NRL.
People might be able to forgive all sorts of things, but the moment they suspect the action they are watching on the field is tainted in any way, it is all over.
I’ve actually worked with Reni in the past and in all my dealings with him, I must say I always found him to be someone you’d quickly refer to as a “good bloke.”
He was polite, honest and helpful, apart from being a tremendously naturally gifted footballer.
But sadly that last phrase shouldn’t be enough to save him from his own fate. It is a bit of tragedy that he should never play NRL again given the redemptive powers of the game.
But enough is enough and this is an issue no sport can afford to get wrong.