As news broke this week that the Essendon Bombers had been found guilty and half its playing roster suspended for 2016 (as well as 2015) inevitably the comparisons with the NRL and the Sharks began to flood in.
For anyone who doesn’t know what happened or how, essentially Cronulla and the NRL copped the punishment on the chin and players were suspended for 3 games.
The AFL and Essendon did not cooperate with ASADA as well as they might have and in fact at times were somewhat uncooperative with investigations.
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As a result they were made an example of.
This is a terrible lesson for kids (or anyone for that matter) to learn.
Imagine if after you’ve been pulled over doing 100 in a 60 zone, drunk as a skunk, but you compliment the officer on a job well done filling out the ticket, add that his shirt makes him look slim, and get a $50 fine instead of losing your license.
Parents, schools, junior sporting organisations – kids get a definite and coordinated message from almost every institution growing up that drugs are not only bad but the punishments aren’t worth the crime.
‘You’ll ruin your career little johnny”, “Don’t ever take drugs or you’ll be banned for life”
Evidently this now needs to be changed to “If you take drugs DON’T THEN lie about it if caught because then you probably might get in actual trouble”
As far as I’m concerned the level of cooperation a governing body or club gives top anti-doping organisations should not come into it.
You cooperate to a certain level or you are presumed guilty. Simple as that.
But most certainly the actual crime should not be reduced because of good behaviour after the fact.
If a club is uncooperative sure, throw an additional book at them. But at least have the initial ‘you took drugs’ book be a bloody thick one that hits hard!
I am not advocating a lesser penalty for Essendon players I think that the punishment for this crime should be a club on its knees which is what the Bombers will be this season.
But not the season after. They will get a dozen great players back fresh and have a new group of more experienced youngsters. The show will go on.
The Sharks also recovered almost immediately as a club.
Clubs will always try and look for an edge. That is their job.
It is the job of ASADA and WADA to make sure that when clubs look for an edge in the illegal performance enhancing drugs department they find a punishment so scary and unthinkably club-crippling they don’t even give it another seconds thought.
And if they do, they get punished to a degree where no other club looks ever again.
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