Whatever respect former NZRU marketing manager Jack Ralston might have had to this point, it has most certainly been obliterated for his unsubstantiated claims that two All Blacks were on the ‘juice’.
In his soon to be launched biography (which I don’t care to name) Ralston states, “People might be stunned by this but I know at least two All Blacks in the 1990s who responded to demands that they bulk up by taking steroids.”
Ralston doesn’t go so far as to name the individuals, and says he never actually saw them take the steroids.
But claims “at least two confided in me they had bowed to the pressure to bulk up and were taking them… with the passing of time they may now feel as if they are in a position to speak about it publicly.”
“At least two” means Ralston is inferring there were more. And if such disclosures were ever made one must assume that Jack was a trustworthy character in a privileged position – the kind of bloke an athlete with a hell of a lot to lose could “confide in”.
Which is what makes Ralston’s documented revelation so hard to stomach, whether it be fact or fiction.
Besides being the NZRU’s head of sales and marketing for a couple of years in the late 1990’s, he has notably coached the likes of Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter, and has served Netball NZ and Gymsports NZ.
Ralston has also worked with superstars like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. No doubt they’ll be fretting over Ralston’s loose lips with his book release pending.
But for now, Jack has chosen to cast aspersions over an entire decade of All Blacks from 1990-1999. Hmmm. So whose names come to mind out of that era then?
John Timu, Olo Brown, Mark Carter, Frank Bunce, Richard Turner, Aran Pene, Eroni Clarke, Jamie Joseph, Robin Brooke, Marc Ellis, Eric Rush, Craig Dowd, Bull Allen, Jeff Wilson, Jonah Lomu, Josh Kronfeld.
Andrew Mehrtens, Glen Osborne, Todd Blackadder, Justin Marshall, Taine Randell, Carlos Spencer, Christian Cullen, Anton Oliver, Tana Umaga, Joeli Vidiri, Kees Meeuws, Byron Kelleher, Mark Hammett, Reuben Thorne, to name a few.
Former All Blacks coach John Hart has predictably come out in defense of the above-named legends and says he’s never heard of any All Blacks on the ‘roids.
“I never saw it on my watch. It would surprise me greatly. It’s very easy to make those comments. From my knowledge, there was none at all.”
But wait, Ralston puts the boot into Hart as well by claiming he was so deflated after New Zealand’s epic 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat that he asked Ralston to speak to the players “to keep them motivated.”
Former captain Taine Randell is furious about the accusations: “For him (Ralston) to come out with those comments and not name names is gutless. He has cast aspersions on a lot of people and I can say that during my time with the team I saw none of that.”
I sympathise with Taine, even though when questioned, Ralston was quick to rule out Randall as a roider.
One can’t help but peruse the aforementioned list of All Blacks though eh? Carlos Spencer was famously pumped for his Toffee Pops commercials.
Jeff Wilson? Christian Cullen? Josh Kronfeld? All punched well above their weight. But then who didn’t?
As a former marketing man, Ralston knows all too well this is exactly the kind of spark to light a little fire around his book launch. And that it has.
I heard former All Black hardman Craig Dowd on the radio about it this afternoon and suggest Ralston avoids him at all costs.
It is a lowlife approach and one that may well backfire a hundredfold on the coach who is banking on book sales outweighing whatever guilt he is feeling for the unjustified liberty taken.
He is obviously prepared to cash in his integrity and coaching credentials for the almighty dollar. Assuming of course, anyone buys the book. I for one won’t be.
Shame on you Jack Ralston.