SPIRO: Tim Horan’s BHW is rugby’s answer to doping cheats

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Wallaby glory against Wales came with an All Black twist (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

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    Years ago the Wallaby’s doctor, Dr John Best, like his name one of the best in the business, told me that when he started he asked the players to put all the pills, vitamins, capsules, supplements and so they were taking on a table in front of him.

    The table was quickly covered with lotions and potions of every shape and colour. Dr Best very quickly stopped the players from taking anything or any treatment that was not a 100 per cent approved and legitmate. Anything the players took had to come to Dr Best for his approval.

    This estimable attitude has prevailed, it seems to me, in Australian rugby since then.

    If you look on the ARU’s website you’ll find an article, an injunction essentially, titled: Anti-Doping: Get Educated. The article gives players, coaches and administrators access to the ASADA e-learning program, a core of six 15-minutes modules available to ‘those who want to be a Pure Performance Supporter.’

    This sort of initiative builds on the work of sports doctors like Dr Best and is a justified reaction to those dreadful times when the doping efforts in East European countries (and later in countries like the USA) contaminated the Olympic sports, and then other major sports like cycling, baseball and gridiron.

    The vigilance against doping in contact sports like rugby union, rugby league and Australian Rules Football is an obvious given. We have seen, say, in rugby the size of the players and their speed increase significantly since professionalism started in 1996.

    The bigger and faster the players the more intense the collisions. Sir Clive Woodward, the coach of the 2003 England Rugby World, told me that some of the collisions on a rugby field have the force of a major car crash.

    Within the last 10 years there were rumours of some star players (not in Australia or New Zealand) using creatine to bulk up their generally frail frames into a wiryness that made them competitive in Test rugby.

    There are extensive testing programs in Tests and in the RWC tournaments. A handful of players have been caught out.  There now has to be an unforgiving attitude to those who breach the guidelines and practices.

    The reaction to the Australian Crime Commission’s revelation of a couple of leading players has been encouraging, in that it shows that the players seem to have got the message that you don’t meddle with products of dubious origin and intention.

    Quade Cooper, for instance, makes the point that ‘if you take anything like that (supplements) in your mouth, it is at your own risk … For me, it is not worth taking something that could jeopardise my whole career.’ Well said!

    And Drew Mitchell, like Cooper, a player who has had his share of injuries: ‘Once guys  … go outside the team recommendations … that’s when it starts getting a little blurred … We’re well educated in that sense. Ignorance is not acceptable.’

    And Tim Horan, a Wallaby hero who played a blinder in the semi-final of the 1999 RWC tournament against the Springboks with an upset stomach and a piece of toast for sustenance (no pills or supplements!), has put out this tweet: ‘What’s going on with drugs in sports these days? What about taking BHW tablets #BloodyHardWork.’

    I read recently that professional cycling was one of the biggest sports in Sydney at the beginning of the 19th century, drawing huge crowds to its events and getting massive coverage in the local newspapers. But when it became clear that race-fixing and drug-taking were rampant in the sport, that the sport was  ‘rotten to the core,’ the public enthusiasm for the sport collapsed.

    The challenge for rugby administrators, players and coaches (and for the other major sports, of course) is to ensure that this corruption of the contest never takes place.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • February 9th 2013 @ 7:05am
      Allanthus said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      Spiro, Quade’s career isn’t jeopardised by what goes into his mouth but what comes out of it.

      • February 9th 2013 @ 7:28am
        The Grafter said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        Its a shame Barry Dunnett was unable to bury his right hand down Coopers throat last night.

      • February 9th 2013 @ 8:54am
        Bazza Allblack Supporter said | February 9th 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Classic ba-zinga!

        • February 9th 2013 @ 11:19am
          Ianmac said | February 9th 2013 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          Is this website becoming the website for puttimg down Quade Cooper and Robbie Deans?

          • February 9th 2013 @ 7:44pm
            Hightackle said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

            Come on, Quade does to himself and if he didnt blame everyone else, didnt bad mouth his team and team mates on twitter, didnt sulk, actually played well for Australia, didnt bushwack R.McCaw and didnt hide in defense he might not get such a hard time.
            Imo he deserves far more than he gets.

            • February 10th 2013 @ 10:59am
              sledgeandhammer said | February 10th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

              Honestly, he niggled Sir Richie – so? Pales into comparison when you look at some of the stuff that goes on during a rugby match. He also criticised the Wallaby set up. Agree or disagree with his views, it is a free country and I personally think we need to move away from this corporate driven hyper sensitivity to any dissent.

              • February 10th 2013 @ 5:38pm
                Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

                Yeah all players act like Quade right?
                Oh no they dont, Quade turned on his team, his team mates and his coach more times than once. He did it after his own poor form both times.
                He gets hidden in defense like hes a child playing a mans game.
                He put his knee into Richies head whilst he couldnt retaliate.

                The hate is driven by Quade, nobody else. Nobody in world rugby, that I know of, acts like Quade, so dont pretend he is a victim of anyone but his own actions.

              • February 11th 2013 @ 11:30am
                Ian said | February 11th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                ” Nobody in world rugby, that I know of, acts like Quade, so dont pretend he is a victim of anyone but his own actions.”

                Nobody except Richie “Cheatin'” McCaw

                Richie is also a victim of his own actions, if you keep onside, you won’t get so many people trying to stamp on your head.

              • February 12th 2013 @ 2:56pm
                Jerry said | February 12th 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

                Dean Greyling

                Lote Tuqiri

                Qwade Cooper

                Aurelien Rougerie

                Andy Powell

                Dylan Hartley

                Ali Williams

                Jamie Heaslip

                Kevin McLaughlin

                Phil Waugh

                Scott Higginbotham

                In the above examples, how many times was McCaw offside when they happened?

    • February 9th 2013 @ 7:30am
      Crashy said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Ha ha very good!

    • February 9th 2013 @ 9:12am
      Sprigs said | February 9th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2013 @ 5:46pm
        Rabbitz said | February 9th 2013 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

        Best comment I have read on this subject…

        • February 9th 2013 @ 7:02pm
          RebelRanger said | February 9th 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

          I second this!

      • February 10th 2013 @ 1:36pm
        Mango Jack said | February 10th 2013 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        silence is golden, sprigs.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 10:02am
      Tigranes said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Spiro wasn’t Ben tune taking creating during his career?

      • February 10th 2013 @ 12:26am
        Hightackle said | February 10th 2013 @ 12:26am | ! Report

        Tune was done for a drug that is used to hide steroids and its not creatine.
        He was not banned but as we all know, Australia never would have beaten NZ in 2003 if the Wallabies were not all juiced up on roids.
        Really if you count viruses, poisoning, match fixing, roided up Ausies and bad reffing, NZ has never actually lost and has actually won every single world cup.
        NZ, 7 times WC champs!

    • February 9th 2013 @ 10:16am
      christian said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

      everyone uses creatine, it is not a banned substance.

    • February 9th 2013 @ 10:27am
      jutsie said | February 9th 2013 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      Its very naive to think rugby is clean. This whole saga and the Armstrong cas has made me cynical of all sports.

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