Essendon Drug Scandal – Performance-Enhancing Drugs
It has been a massive 48 hours for the Essendon Football Club in the AFL. Essendon held a press conference on Tuesday the 5th of Feb regarding an incident that occurred during the 2012 season in regards to ‘potentially’ performance-enhancing drugs.
I won’t go into details about sanctions, performance impacts and consequences at this stage as the details are not clear, nor have they even be released. Essendon are currently under investigation from both AFL and ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority).
One can only speculate at this stage about the severity or even the extent in which these ‘performance-enhancing’ drugs were used. But one thing is for sure, ASADA are not an organisation to back down if they sense some form of wrong-doing.
For an example of this look no further than Casey Scorpions player Wade Lees in the VFL. Lees ordered a fat-burning supplement overseas that contained traces of a banned substance. The package was intercepted by Australian Customs who then alerted ASADA.
Wade Lees claims that he had no idea that the supplement contained traces of a banned substance. Furthermore, Lees did not even consume the supplement! He was effectively charged for “attempted use of a prohibited substance violation”.. which cost him an 18-month ban from all sports.
ASADA have firmly established that ‘ignorance’ is not an excuse and subsequently players and officials will be penalised as such. Many would also remember vividly Shane Warne’s incident and the unforgiving nature of ASADA.
To put this in perspective with the recent Essendon drug scandal, if the AFL and ASADA find that illegal substances were consumed by players, those players could face up to 2 year bans based on the history of performance-enhancing punishments in Australia. Given that sources also reveal that Essendon were aware that these supplements were ‘borderline’, this will not help the cause or if so occurs, the potential appeal.
How does this happen in a professional environment?
Many will ask, in an elite sporting environment, how does a massive slip like this occur? The nature in which certain substances are banned by ASADA is quite confusing in itself. However, there is clearly a breakdown in the processes at Essendon Football Club which allowed something like this to occur.
Both AFL clubs and players receive extensive information and education about performance-enhancing drugs, how to avoid them, what’s ethical and what’s legal. Thus, almost everyone would be wondering how this occurs in an elite environment. Questions would be asked such as, did anyone really know? How many players took the supplement? Where is the quality control?
These questions will more than likely be revealed in due course, however in the meantime we can only speculate.
The investigation has come at a concerning time for all sports fans and lovers, as Lance Armstrong (7 time Tour De France winner) recently admitted to using banned substances. The image of elite sport across the world is being effected due to the inquisition surrounding performance-enhancing drugs.
To conclude, I just hope that this situation surrounding the ‘Essendon drug scandal‘ is not as bad as first thought. It’s hard to make any real judgements about what will happen or even what has happened. However, I especially hope that Jobe Watson is not stripped of his 2012 Brownlow Medal.
You may also want to check out Supplements: What You Need To Know