Did Australian sport’s darkest day come too soon?
Where are drugs in sport headed? (Image: Organised Crime And Drugs In Sport Report)
Most people would say, given the magnitude of the findings in the report by the Australian Crime Commission this week, that it was a long overdue wake-up call for all of the major codes.
They were apparently woken from their slumber with the scourge of performance enhancing drugs, infiltration by organised crime and match fixing whacking them across the face.
They found out just before we did that perhaps sport isn’t as clean as it was once thought.
But what was considered long-overdue now appears premature. The giants should’ve been allowed to linger in their slumber for a while longer.
47 pages of alarming claims were released into the public domain with many more detailed pages sitting on the desks of sports administrators.
Those pages are the ones that matter, but unfortunately the fans won’t be allowed to see their contents.
Instead, you and I are left to wonder just who are the players and clubs that new NRL chief executive Dave Smith alluded to in Canberra on Thursday morning.
It’s only right that the relevant authorities know the finer details of the 12-month investigation, but the decision to throw a cryptic version into the public domain is highly questionable.
The NRL season starts in just under a month and any investigation into any player or club won’t be completed before then. It might not be completed before the end of the season or the next season.
Sports like cycling have shown us how hard it is to get a definitive doping conviction.
It has led to a situation where we have incredibly alarming allegations and not a clue who they relate to.
The report has put not just rugby league players in the spotlight, but also cast a shadow over the entire Australian sporting landscape.
Fans want to see sport played by clean athletes, but until more detail is forthcoming, how do we determine who is clean and who isn’t?
It’s incredibly unfair for every athlete to be painted with the same brush.
The Australian Crime Commission did a fantastic job to uncover as much detail as it did, but why couldn’t it have waited until the guilty had confessed?
Any player found guilty of bending the rules deserves to face appropriate punishment, but the non-guilty don’t deserve to be lumped in with them while the process takes its course.
These headlines took just minutes to travel right around the world.
A once proud sporting nation was portrayed as a colony of cheats.
The Guardian website carried this headline: “Australian sport rife with drugs, claims report.”
The Telegraph website (UK version) said “Australian sport hit by doping scandal.”
Note that it’s not players at certain clubs, but Australian sport that cops a beating internationally.
All of this without a charge laid against a single individual or club.
Sport needs to be clean and cheats punished.
The way sport is monitored in Australia is about to be changed and it’s highly doubtful that it would’ve happened without the ACC report.
But we needed names when the bombshell was dropped.
We needed to know who had crossed the line.
Without the hard evidence in the public domain speculation and rumour will run rife.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.