Up late last night thinking of the current predicament (or perhaps predicaments) facing the Australian sporting landscape, I posed myself a simple question: Does anybody win when it comes to the use of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) or PIEDs (Performance or Image Enhancing Drugs) in sport? I came to a simple conclusion: No.
Whether you view the debacle from the eyes of a bewildered supporter, player, coach, organisation/government official, Australian television producer or even as a parent of any child striving to play sport professionally, the answer remains no – with all aforementioned parties detrimentally affected in some way.
Supporters have been directly implicated by the Australian Crime Commissions (ACC) report – and unless you are individually perverse enough to let old club rivalries override common sense – the findings left you deeply troubled and questioning both the future longevity of Australian sport and the legitimacy of our sporting hero’s accolades.
When the ACC released their year-long report into the penetration of drugs in sport, the commission made one crucial blunder: divulging intelligence of widespread penetration PIED’s (such as the now taboo ‘peptides’), without actually ‘naming names’ and essentially painting every athlete with the same muddy brush.
Not only did this promote mistrust of all players, but it also diminished the reports credibility – leaving some sporting commentators wondering if the public had been once again swindled by another political stunt.
Speaking to Chief Football Writer for The Age, Caroline Wilson, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has continually distanced himself from the theory, denoting the seriousness of the situation.
“We’re talking about potential funding cuts, millions of dollars in lost sponsorship, brand damage and potential litigation against board members – [and] that’s to use the analogy of what’s happening at Essendon at the moment,” he said.
Additionally, the potential health damage posed to players willing to run the gauntlet in using an untested substance leaves you consistently shaking your head.
To expand on the negatives once more, TV rights owners Seven West (AFL) and Nine Network (NRL) and Foxtel (AFL, NRL, Super 15) can also expect lower broadcast audiences in 2013, to accompany lower average fan attendance at matches.
All of these drawbacks will be seen without a single player, official or club at present being found negligent.
If there is one positive in the ever-expanding list of negatives it is this: ignorance has been irrefutably expelled.
The Australian public can no longer believe that its indigenous sporting codes are exempt from the PED ‘plague’. The damning ACC report only confirms to the population that this epidemic has the power to cross seas and forever diminish sport’s integrity. A glaring omission that sporting fans won’t likely readily forget.
Callum Godde is a second-year Journalism (Sport) student at La Trobe University. Follow him on Twitter @CalGodde.