I’m an Essendon supporter but by no means a die-hard. Admittedly by interest in football has really declined over the past decade, and my interest in the team even less so the past few years with the never-ending supplement saga that has been pervading the news continually. Yesterday, WADA has come out and finally found the team guilty of using banned substances as part of the clubs supplement program and as a result, 34 past and present players have been banned.
The thing that really annoys me about this is the emphasis that’s put onto players for being mindful of what goes into their bodies. Sure, that’s easy enough to say, and is really relevant when you have individuals taking a little something on the side to be unfairly competitive – the genuine cheats. But think about these guys for a minute.
Picture yourself as part of a professional football club, involved in the vigorous training regimes – your entire life is consumed by the game and being prepared for it. If the club has provided to you a vitamin supplement cocktail and everyone else you know in the team is using them – would you really doubt it? Why wouldn’t you think the club itself ensures that what is being provided is above board and legal?
Now I of course have not been in this position, but when I think back to my school football days, had the coach suggested and provided a series of vitamins or what not, I very possibly would have taken them (albeit naively).
Of course the players really should be asking – hey, what’s in this? But at the same time, it’s perfectly understandable why many/most haven’t. They shouldn’t have too! If you can’t trust your professional sports club, particularly in a game that’s supposedly clean like AFL – then who the hell can you trust?
The blame here should be adamantly on the team itself. On the management. The coaching body. The very people who should be ensuring that anything their players are taking that’s determined by them, is clean.
If beyond this a player is taking their own illegal supplements on the side, that’s a different thing entirely. Given what’s happened with this whole, dark scenario – I think it’s the players themselves who are really paying the far greater penalty than their superiors.