The saga of the hammerheads over at the Sharks has more twists and turns than a David Mamet play, to the point where anything written is almost immediately made redundant. If it weren’t for all the obfuscation, then we might actually be getting somewhere with this investigation. Rest assured, ASADA has more evidence than the coffee cups in the recycling that only serve to incriminate me on a daily basis. A siege mentality isn’t helping matters, nor are radio blowhards who are impervious to facts and research, yet screech like gibbon monkeys about the injustice and lack of positive tests.
The ‘rigorous scrutiny’ applied to the investigation by the Channel 9 ‘special’ a few weeks back was a case in point. No-one seemed to hear Graham Annesley talking about scary developments in his briefing with authorities except Alan Sullivan QC. Anyone with a QC is by definition a sharp chap, and responds to facts. So much so that he subsequently recommended sacking the Cronulla 5.
Just when you watch the drama unfold like the peeling of a mouldy onion and wonder why on earth sponsors would want to have any association with these clowns, up pops one of those sponsors with … you guessed it … a bunch of (allegedly) shady 3rd party payments. The fact that it was a ‘security’ company reduces the surprise element by, ooohhh, about a million, but it just goes to underscore how far teams will go to get an edge.
It also underscores how poor the management structure has been. Either the club is alerted to all payments as part of the contract (there is a salary cap, after all), or player managers are deregistered for withholding this information. This is also an NRL issue, to be sure, but poor old David Smith hasn’t had time to be proactive yet given recent developments, and has started to look a little stressed as the before & after shots demonstrate.
If he wanted to be proactive, and I understand the ARLC has a Board full of business and football experts to assist him, he might have contacted ASADA the way the AFL did. Oh dear. I like the idea of the ARLC, I just don’t like the ARLC in practice. It’s a bit like government in that respect, but that’s another story.By now, we all have grudgingly accepted that the results vs participation equation has been settled undeniably in favour of the former, but it strikes me as bad management practice to allow sports science and performance managers carte blanche. Acts of commission by the Board are no different to acts of omission. This is not the world of George Costanza, where a lie is not a lie if you believe it to be true.
Knowing ‘something’ is going on and satisfying yourself that you are blameless because you don’t know the ‘details’ is an untenable position and, by demanding no details, betrays at least an instinct that something shady is going on.
A further point, made by many including Benji Marshall today, is that players simply accept what the club and its doctors recommend. I’m not sure how being affronted at the thought of being treated like a child (see ‘Booze Bans’) squares with actually behaving like an infant. Given the whole idea of taking supplements is to improve performance and assist recovery, was the question not asked if the stuff was ‘ridgey didge’? If the answer was yes, then the player cannot be faulted. Not for a single bleeding nanosecond, and they have my full sympathy. I somehow have the sinking feeling that it was not asked, in the same way the Cronulla board never asked because ‘they didn’t want to know’.
Next time someone wants to apply some Dankorub or asks you to mulch on a bit of hay, just ask the simple and obvious question. And then we can all get back to watching gutys like Inglis light up stadiums and put this behind us.