After a catastrophic few weeks for the NRL, it is clear the illicit drug policy in professional sports in Australia needs radical change. So is Australian sport losing the war on drugs?
This topic has been widely debated in the industry and was heavily explored in the latest episode of our podcast – Open Talks.
Is Australian sport losing the war on drugs?
The recent arrests of players and club officials has brought the issue to public attention. It also gives the impression that league officials are not doing enough for their athlete’s health and well-being.
The only way misdemeanours of players and club officials become public knowledge is when it’s caught on camera or occurs in the public eye.
Is the truth being covered up?
This gives the option for league officials to cover up failed drug tests. And even create fake stories to mislead the public of any indiscretions that don’t become public knowledge.
It’s dangerous for coaches and officials to have this amount of power, as it seems saving the reputation of the league and the clubs involved is more important than the health and well-being of the players.
I don’t think the coaches or club officials should have anything to do with these decisions. They are not experts in this field and they have too much at stake to make an objective decision.
The current system is not working
This is where an independent body is needed. It should not be someone like ASADA or WADA who embarrassed themselves during the Essendon scandal.
It needs to be an independent body that can empathise with the players and understand addiction and the mental health problems that come with being an elite athlete.
We must remember that these athletes are human beings. If drug addiction and mental health are problems in our society, the professional sporting environment will not be exempt from this.
The current system is a witch hunt. The testers will do anything to catch a player with illicit drugs in their system. And the players will do anything to avoid a positive test.
The focus should not be on the amount of strikes a player receives. It should be an evaluation of their mental health and education about the affects illicit drugs can have.
This is an opportunity to focus on the health and well-being of players, while preparing them for life after sport.
Is hair testing the answer?
This could be done by implementing hair testing for all players to identify the drug users. Once they have been identified, counselling and drug education could be implemented.
Introducing this system could eliminate the stigma the players receive. It could also allow drug use to be monitored and addressed by mental health and illicit drug specialists.
This controversial topic has sparked a national debate and has divided the opinion of many experts in the industry.
The team at BeyondTheGame.TV deliberated all the facts and discussed the topic of drugs in sports in the most recent episode of our podcast – Open Talks.