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The Roar

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My view of the ACC's report

Roar Pro
11th February, 2013
6

The current drugs in sports crisis is crazy. Actually, I won’t say “sport” like its all sport and all professional athletes.

It’s primarily AFL/NRL it seems – probably others – but my guess is the professional netball and the women’s soccer aren’t caught up in this drugs and organised crime scandal.

The current NRL/AFL situation seems to be like the movie The Last Boy Scout – except without Bruce Willis to save the day and do a jig.

I read the ACC report, rather than the concerned fumbling and blustering of code administrators in response to it’s findings.

A couple of things stood out.

“Betting on racing remains the largest betting market in Australia, increasing 69 percent between 2000–01 and 2010–11. Wagering on other sports increased by 278 per cent over the same period.”

If you didn’t know how Tom Waterhouse can afford all those ads, to quote Seears workwear: “Now you know!”

That is an insane increase in cashflow! The report also states that in 2006, sport was generating $8.82 billion dollars in income, and between now and then it has increased.

People are making huge amounts of money from sport, and its not the players. Strangely the leagues both cap what a player can earn, but I’m pretty sure everyone else’s earning potential from the sport is potentially unlimited.

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Players are simply a commodity and the pressure to remain a commodity must be enormous. Competitive advantages are sought in any form, and players and clubs do a lot to ensure the player can get out onto the field and perform at an elite level every week.

One of the things they do is hire “sports scientists” – which is just a fancy name for a drug dealer. They get paid to develop “programs” – which are a far cry from the lap around the oval Winnie Blues and oranges Cliff Lyons used to get.

The only way Sterlo got more oxygen was his large nose, but those good old days are far removed from 2013. Because all of this activity has been club endorsed, I’m sure a lot of the modern big name players will be quietly rushing, cup of urine in hand, to see exactly how they’ve been “programmed”.

That will be followed by the flushing of players and clubs, that is, until they figure out the next “scientific breakthrough” (new drugs).

It seems a shame for the codes to have done the right thing and chase cigarettes, alcohol and liquor sponsorship out of the sport, only to replace it all with illegal drugs, criminal activity and gambling.

The report goes on to say the following. “The ACC has identified significant integrity concerns within professional sports in Australia related to the use of prohibited substances by athletes and increasing associations of concern between professional athletes and criminal identities.”

I grew up idolising football players like gods. Well thanks to sports medicine they’re now a mix of the gods: Dionysus (Alcohol), Morpheus (Dreams) and Asclepius (Medicine).

I don’t understand why a footballer, knowing that they are role models and leaders in the community, would want to be associating with criminal identities in the first place. I see no positive benefit there – unless you think a positive drug test is still a positive.

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Strangely, until last week I would have thought it a noble and good idea for a footballer to be associated with a scientist or a doctor – but obviously now, I’m not so sure.

It makes the players and teams they’ve made examples of, for drug use and other illegal activities, seem like scapegoats or just the dumb ones who got caught.

Maybe Joel Monaghan was just trying a newly prescribed form of performance enhancement? Most of the drugs listed in the report are made from animal extracts. Um, I’ll leave it there.

The drug use and criminal ties also impact how I feel about the great work players have been doing in schools and their local communities because now they feel like false heroes, or at least people I don’t want kids looking up to as role models.

The other ‘integrity’ problem is that now every prize, achievement, spectacular individual and team performance – it’s all under speculation and that is devastating for fans everywhere.

From grand final wins, to State of Origin streaks, through to leading tryscorers/goalkickers, Brownlows, Dally Ms and Clive Churchill Medallists – the grand time of speculation begins.

One thing that’s true about all passionate footy fans: they love to speculate. It’s the commitment to the “What if?” that keeps us tuning in. That has now been replaced by a different speculation: What teams? All teams? This player? All players? The report is clear that it is a systemic problem.

It’s an integrity issue – and it cuts to the heart of what sport is all about. All of my passion and excitement for season 2013 is now waning.

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I bet “Wayne-ing” is what Wayne Carey calls having sex with Wayne Carey. I’ll leave it there.

I don’t think my childhood heroes were caught up in drugs. The only way Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach would have calf blood was if he’d punched a calf, killed it and then just started eating it raw because that’s how much of a man he was.

I think the closest we got to this stuff in my childhood was Adam Ritson selling ‘Brahmi’ plant extract to improve your memory.

I don’t think NRL players are interested in ‘Brahmi’ extract right now, they’ll need to spend the next year saying: “…I don’t remember what they were given by their team doctor, they certainly didn’t know it was illegal.”

I would like to see some sponsors pull their support from football and specifically target that money at women’s sport, while also supporting grassroots and school sports.

Supporting codes with links to organised crime and drugs doesn’t match-up with many company brands, but if forces the codes to deal with the issue through the use of market forces.

‘Capitalism – it’s the greatest game of all.’ I’ll leave it there.

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