DISCORD 2013: Edition Six

DiscordBy STEVE MASCORD

THE publicity surround the use of supplements in the AFL – and the links to rugby league – raises an interesting ethical question.

Anti-doping authorities are there to prevent “cheating” – performance enhancing substances that give an athlete or team an unfair advantage over rivals. That’s what this story is all about, so far.

But should a governing body, a doping body and a public also take into account players’ long-term health and the damage being done by some of their practices as their club seeks ‘an edge’? Or should we just leave it to them as adults to make their own decisions?

In the last 12 months, a number of people have expressed concern about the use of painkillers by players unable to sleep and/or desperate not to lose their place in the team. Some people will argue that painkillers are in themselves performance enhancing because they allow you to do things you wouldn’t be able to do without them.

Let’s leave that argument aside and just ask this: does the governing body have a duty of care to prevent long-term, chronic injury and illness in athletes, after they retire?

As for anti-inflamatories, anyone who has taken them would have heard a warning about how reliance on them can lead to heart disease. Our players spend their entire careers gobbling the things.

From a theoretical point of view, we have already crossed the line between preventing cheating and changing rules to protect players’ health according to new medical information.

We did it by tightening the rules surrounding concussion.

So it stands to reason that in the years ahead, tighter legislation will come in to regulate the use of painkillers, anti-inflamatories and supplements that do not constitute cheating but are bad for our players.

The higher the stakes, the further our clubs and players will go in the quest for success. Our vigilance has to keep pace with that escalation.

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SOUTH Sydney could end up transferring a home game or two to Port Moresby as a result of the relationships forged in the lead-up to this Sunday’s pre-season game at Redfern Oval.

No, I’m serious.

While the idea of having an NRL team in PNG remains as far off as ever, Souths are getting behind the Kumuls’ bid for inclusion in Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup. The Rabbitohs’ June 16 premiership game in Cairns on June 16 will also help promote the Kumuls’ cause.

If things go well, Souths could transfer a home game a bit further up the road than Gosford.

“We are excited by our association with PNG and the game against the Kumuls at Redfern. Hopefully an NRL fixture can be hosted there in the future,” Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson said.
“To do this facilities need to be upgraded significantly.”

Congrats to Souths for thinking outside the box and playing Warrington last year and PNG this year in the Return To Redfern match.

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THIS column’s key element is interaction and to that end I am going to step things up a little bit this year by doing live chats from press boxes all season, deadlines permitting of course.

read on

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