THE BIG ISSUE: #43

The Big IssueBy STEVE MASCORD

THE drugs-in-sport story has reached a new fork in the road, with ASADA suspending all negotiations with Cronulla players and continuing investigations elsewhere.

All this raises a very salient question from our point of view: why isn’t deliberate sports doping illegal in Australia?

ASADA’s right to use evidence gathered by the Australian Crime Commission is in question but if deliberate doping was a crime, the ACC could be doing some of this spadework themselves.

Anecdotally, the doping agency’s inexperience at genuine sleuthing – as opposed to watching people pee in a bottle – is obvious in the investigation so far. They need help.

Just because we wouldn’t be dobbing in our colleagues over doing the wrong thing doesn’t mean we want cheats in the game. There’s a big difference. Generally speaking, athletes in team sports are going to be well-practised and determined when it comes to keeping secrets – they do it every day.

Rather than giving ASADA more coercive powers, the Federal Government should be looking at making doping a more serious offence – which would allow experienced law enforcement officers to get involved.

I am not talking about players who took a supplement unknowingly. Leave that to ASADA. But if there are players out there who have been recorded in wire taps boasting about cheating, or have been supplying their team-mates, throw the book at them.

Get the real cops involved.

It’s a distinction, between casual users and big fish, that is used elsewhere in drug enforcement every day.

When deliberate cheats start appearing in courts and getting jail sentences, maybe the penny will finally drop for those considering the idea of cheating.

.

AS we reflect on Saturday’s big crowd at the Wellington “caketin”, we should remember that a decade ago, taking games there was the flavour of the … well, decade.

But each time, the crowds steadily decreased.

Some markets just love rugby league for marquee events but don’t have the patience to keep turning up. They’ll turn to the next novelty without warning.

One has to wonder if the Gold Coast is one of these. I was on the sideline on Sunday for Titans-Dragons and St George Illawarra certainly seemed to have more fans there than the home team.

I can understand if the previous administration was “on the nose” with locals because of the unpaid debts regarding the Centre Of Excellence – but hopefully we can now move on.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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