Spot the dopes?

Date: 23rd March 2016

Scottish Football's apparent approach to drug misuse...

Scottish Football’s apparent approach to drug misuse…

I wonder what you would call a collection of outraged fans? A singularity if you are in the SFA, but what about a group of doped up footballers? A night out?

The reality is that if you are a professional sportsman in Scotland, playing football, week in and week out, you are terribly likely to be able to snort, inject and mistakenly take any variety of banned substances as long as someone doesn’t grass you up.

You increase the likelihood of keeping it a secret if you manage to keep it to non competitive weeks – the close season. In fact, if you happen to be partial to any recreational drugs, get in a train north and settle into life on the mellow lane, away from those pesky FA chaps who want to catch you out. Up here in the frozen north they are far more accommodating than down in the Arctic south…

Obviously this is all tongue in cheek and a bit of a joke? As fans we pay our money and shiver on a terrace to support the guys who are honestly doing their best for us and now we have a system that casts doubt upon that honesty.

The fact that only 8 footballers in the professional game in Scotland have, this season, been tested for drugs allows the above scenario to not only be possible, but almost… probable.

The SFA do not give the UK anti doping agency any of its turnover – over £30 Million – does not encourage out of competition testing and is promoting an intelligence led programme to catch out cheats.

That means that if people are not prepared to tell tales to the SFA then the bad boys get to do it and run away with it.

It is the same with their policy on gambling. This has come up a few times over the years and once again if you see one of your rival’s players going into the bookies and can prove he was betting on football, you can get him penalised, fined and even suspended. In neither case is the SFA proactive. They are reactive.

If they are told, then they shall go and do something about it. What constitutes telling them? Clearly they want names and serial numbers, even serial offences to help them build a case but if we know that there is a drug issue in sport, should we not be diverting resources into tackling it? Education and testing as a joint programme, rather than burying our heads in the sand and having one drug test every 5 weeks as has seemingly happened over the last 9 months. Is the policy really just hoping that the bad boys won’t do it? It’s applying playground logic to an adult issue and rather than being intelligence led it is intelligence light.

We are not saying there is a drug problem in the Scottish game but there is an issue of credibility for the game if other sports can claim a decent and rigorous regime and what we do is shrug our shoulders and say, “But naebody tellt us!” In fairness they do have a hotline for you to tellt them… It appears to be used less than you would think… or at least less than they hoped… so just who is the dope? The cheat who gets away with it? The authorities who try and police it or the fans who are asked to put their hands in their pockets?

By Donald C Stewart

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