This is a sensitive topic that no one has much information on yet, so I will not say too much about it. But I wanted to make clear what I think the real issue is here, because I don’t think that it’s the number of people involved, the ignorance of many teams and leagues, the involvement of officials, or the extent of the scandal.
It is all of those things, in part, but the real issue, as I see it, is that Australians feel lied to.
You see, Australians are big on drinking and partying and generally being ridiculous human beings (in the best way, of course) but they also pride themselves on the fact that their sport leagues, teams and stars are not cheats. No one cares about illicit drugs – Ben Cousins being a prime example – and match fixing and organized crime suck but people will get over it – most people don’t even understand how it affects the league – but the idea that someone could be taking performance enhancers is unthinkable. No one wants it to be “their” league or “their” team. I even heard a radio announcer yesterday said that when she found out, she went through the seven stages of grief. Her co-announcer said that he has entered an eighth stage: confusion. Because, like I said, Australians don’t think it could happen here.
Also… WHAT ARE PEPTIDES? No one really knows, but its a buzzword now. It’s growth hormone, sure, but is it a performance enhancer? How does it make you “grow?” What’s the deal? Without telling people what it is an how it affects people means there’s a lot of speculation, most of which is probably way off.
No one has an answer and that’s a problem for fans and leagues alike. If people could get a few names, they could start to move on… but that’s not what they’re getting. All they’re getting is “we can’t say.” How can people accept what has happened and move on if they don’t know what they’re accepting and moving on from?
Sure, Australian sport doesn’t have the reputation for being the most transparent industry – the AFL won’t even publish salaries! – but if a few names aren’t dropped before the beginning of the AFL and NRL seasons, there’s going to be a big, black cloud looming over every game and a whole lot of guessing games. No one wants that. C’mon guys, have a little faith in your fans and just tell them (and me!) what’s going on. That’s really all they want.
(On a less serious note… the real issue for me, personally, is that I have Brendan Goddard on my Dream Team and I need to know who Essendon will suspend, if anyone, so I can make the right decisions.)