Last night’s Channel 9 drugs in sport “analysis” told us very little in the scheme of things. But that’s what rugby league loves – talking and navel gazing without coming up with a sensible solution. It’s an awful lot of fun, and a tremendous way to spend the day. The Dr engages patients on the couch with just this sort of banter and, before they know it, time’s up, the pressure on the chest is alleviated, and I’m off to Catalina for lunch in my newly purchased pair of Ballys.
Before commenting on the actual content though, let’s pause to reflect on the panel’s performance. Gus Gould gave us measured doses of calm reason and intelligent responses. It was a pleasure to watch. Had David Gallop been in David Smith’s seat, however, I venture to guess he might have been screeching like a gibbon monkey. His demeanour throughout has been exemplary.
As for Karl (not to be confused with Dr Karl) and Ray Hadley, I think the following charts tell the whole story without need for further comment:
I particularly liked Paul Kent’s drugs sidebar. It reminded me of an Ali G skit, but his table was chock-a-block full of contraband and replete with stories about how his mate Steve could get the stuff cheaper. Paul’s table was pretty bare, but it did its job – the Persians are pretty easy to get. I even think the guy selling The Big Issue on the corner near my place throws in a few growth hormones with every purhase.
I’m pretty sure David Smith would have appreciated an easier entry to the greatest game of all. Having just learned what NRL stood for and who Cameron Smith was, this must have come as quite some surprise. He has used the word proactive about 450,000 times in the last week, but it would have been preferable to name the clubs once it was clear there were 6 of them. How can there be a legal issue in doing so when, in a mad rush to deny a call had been received by the ACC, the 6 were named within hours on Twitter. It’s just maddening, and the NRL needs to learn what proactive means. Having punted David Gallop and highlighting the NRL’s reactive posture, it only seems to get worse.
Despite what the clubs have been saying, there is an important set of points to be understood in all of this.
First, while the press conference announcement has had the effect of tarnishing Australian sportspeople globally which is regrettable, the announcement was still very unlike the ACC as Alan Sullivan QC noted. The implication is that there is far more to this than meets the eye.
Graham Annesley said as much when he referred to the information presented to him in a briefing last night as serious, even quite scary, and that the ACC was very confident of prosecutions. It seemed to give Alan Sullivan pause. So it would be a good idea for those saying “show me the evidence” to chill unless you want to be grouped into Chart 1 above. That is not how law enforcement works.
One gets the sense that NRL and AFL involvement is the tip of the iceberg, and that the ACC’s field of vision is far larger, extending into distribution and trafficking. Therefore, expect the newsfeed to reflect this over time (in the same way the Dr’s rules changes recommendations have!). Don’t forget that the investigation has been operating for quite some time, so the idea that guilty parties will be able to “go to ground”is a bit like locking the gate after the horse steroid has bolted.
Second, do not underestimate the powerful force exerted by those who are hingeing their careers on breaking the sports-drugs-organised crime nexus. It is highly doubtful this has been brought about by a flight of fancy.
In the wash up, it looks like Channel 9 was trying to keep the fire of outrage burning with very little to back it up. Where’s John Pilger when you need him? Let’s take a step back and make comment when we know more.
As for players with this “hanging over their heads” as the saying goes, get a grip. If you’re not guilty of anyting except a bad tattoo, then relax and play some footy.