Drugs In Sports

Mood: Fed Up

Another day, another sporting legend done for drugs.

I am so over all the hoopla surrounding drugs in sports. Not a day seems to go by without another sports star being reported for their association with drugs. What’s worse is the bullshit we are fed from the sports stars as to how the drugs came to being on or in their person, or where the drug came from.

Today, it was widely reported that Andrew Johns was caught in London in possession of an Ecstasy table. And his initial excuse? Someone he didn’t really know pushed the tablet into his pants pocket and he forgot it was there.

How stupid do you honestly think we are, Joey Johns?

Australians love their sports. What’s more, Australians love their sporting heroes. Whilst a large number of Australians can’t tell you who the first Prime Minister of Australia is, they can rattle off the bowling averages of Shane Warne, or can recall in minute detail the moment when Tony "Plugger" Lockett kicked his 1300th career goal.

Be it the right or wrong thing to do, the revere Australians show to their sports stars puts these people on impossibly high pedestals. Often seen as role models, these sports stars may be ordinary people (albeit with freakish talent in their chosen sport) who do what they have to do to blow off steam, but all too often, they forget that they are constantly in the public eye. So it is that much more disappointing for sports fans to see their idols behave badly and fall from grace.

As I am typing this, the news has just aired the exclusive interview given by Johns about his battle with drugs. He admitted that he has had a problem with drugs for over 10 years, even going so far as to admit that he has used drugs during his stellar career in Rugby League. I have to hand it to him – at least he is honest about his addiction. I was all ready for more bullshit excuses until I saw the news.

The problem of drugs in sports is rife. Johns is not the first to be caught, and sadly, he will not be the last. We have been subject to news reports of the demise of some of our high profile sports stars who have succumbed to the hazards of drugs (recreational or otherwise). We have seen the rise and fall of sports stars including Wendell Sailor (rugby union), Julian O’Neill (rugby league), Ben Cousins (AFL), the entire West Coast Eagles side (AFL), Mark Bosnich (soccer), Martin Vinnicombe (cycling), Mark French (cycling), Darren Clark (athletics), and perhaps the most famous of all, Shane Warne (cricket).

Johns is, after all, a retired footballer and he was caught with the tablet during personal time. Much has been made of his arrest because of his high profile and his tenuous link with the Wallabies preparing for the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup. And while I am disappointed with the initial crappy excuse, I am pleased that he has openly admitted that he screwed up.

So unlike Shane Warne and the diet pill debacle. Not for one moment am I lambasting Warne for what he has brought to the world of cricket – he is undeniably one of the best spin bowlers the world has seen. However, the way Warne handled himself in the days after he tested positive to a banned substance during a random drug test was laughable. Sent home from the 2003 Cricket World Cup in disgrace, Warne was subsequently banned from playing any form of cricket for one year. Warne’s excuse? His mother gave him the diet pill and told him to take it, because the pill will make him look better on cameras. Hey chubby, here’s a clue – how about laying off the beer and baked beans diet?

The drugs in sports problem is not just confined to Australia. The US Track & Field team is renowned for returning positive drugs tests, the Chinese swimmers too, and the Germans were long suspected of pumping their swimmers full of performance enhancing drugs before major meets. As for behaving badly off the field, well, just about every code of sports has its legends – Diego Maradona, George Best, Eric Cantona just to name a few of the party hardies.

For Johns’ sake, I hope he seeks treatment for his addiction and has the support network around him to get him through the tough times ahead. It’s time to step up and be the role model that so many people see you as, and kick the habit with as much determination and tenacity as you have shown throughout your stellar sporting career.

Incidentally:

* The first Prime Minister of Australia is Sir Edmund Barton.

* Shane Warne’s bowling averages are 25.41 (test) and 25.73 (one day internationals). He took 708 test wickets, his last being the scalp of Englishman Andrew Flintoff.

* Tony Lockett kicked his 1300th career goal in 1999 whilst playing for the Sydney Swans at the SCG. Taken after the final siren, Plugger missed the 6-pointer but the behind was enough to spark one of the biggest pitch invasions ever seen in AFL. By the time Plugger was lining up his sights, the Swans had already won the game against Collingwood.

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