The blackest day in Australian sport...
When the federal government and the Australian Crime Commission made their grandstanding announcement about drugs and match-fixing, and Richard Ings, the former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, made his ‘‘blackest day in Australian sport’’ comment, they weren’t being ironic.
They should have been.
Five weeks after the day, what have we got?
It’s indeed been a black time and the cliched images are unavoidable...a dark cloud hanging over sport, a pall over proceedings etc.
Proof of mass drug-taking and rorting, points shaving?
Nothing, just blackened reputations, as yet undeserved.
It was a black day indeed.
Just a Cronulla circus and whatever the reality, no suggestion Sharks players were swallowing steroids like lollies, or getting cocaine or amphetamine hits before matches.
Unlike the industrial-scale mass consumption and rorting in the Tour de France.
All that is known is the suggestion that Cronulla players were given peptides in 2011, pills that weren’t illegal when they took them.
Sharks chairman Damian Irvine, before resigning, made an as-yet unsubstantiated allegation that players were injected with substances that have been used on horses.
Coach Shane Flanagan has been stood down, and four others sacked, because they didn’t keep club management in the loop. Or so it is rumoured.
Beyond that nothing, except for reputations ruined and threats from ASADA.
And players who could be said to be naive, or wanted to get an imagined edge in recovery from a pill.
And an NRL who could be condemned for allowing Cronulla to go three years without a chief executive.
It all adds up to what? The worst that can be said is that it’s a minor scandal in sporting parlance.
Hard to attach even shock-horror to it.
If there isn’t any meat attached to the February 7 shock-horror announcement soon, and there is this repeated assurance of ‘‘soon’’, then the strongest condemnation should be reserved for the perpetrators of February 7 and its aftermath.
At least it can be said rugby league has proved again it is bombproof.
After all the attempts, many self-inflicted and some from outside to kill it, it survives.
Should they not win another game in 2013, should they fold, in beating the Titans at home Cronulla scored one of the great victories since 1908, and before 17,000 loyal fans.
That’s what the game’s about — the players and the fans.
Put it another way.
If every NRL club was found to have one steroid-engorged monster, that’s 16 players out of 400.
That’s a major problem: it’s not a game rife with drug-cheats and a black cloud after which there can be no silver lining.
Meanwhile, the ‘‘soon’’ better come soon, as everyone is being tarred with the same black brush.