Raiders and Brumbies tarred by same brush
The Brumbies and Raiders may have been unfairly tainted by the ACC's report. Photo: Artwork: Marco Mana.
Name and shame - that's the only way to repair the damage caused by the ''blackest day in Australian sport''.
Until it happens, everyone's a suspect. That's the problem with the Australian Crime Commission and government not revealing the names of trouble makers. They're painting every player in every code with the same dirty brush.
That means the ACT Brumbies and Canberra Raiders have to face the questions, too.
I was digesting the news on Thursday night, pondering which clubs would be implicated and how each code would defend its status. It got me thinking about the Brumbies and the Raiders.
The capital's two premier sporting teams in two of the competitions that stood next to federal sports minister Kate Lundy and declared war on cheats.
Both clubs are confident they're in the clear. But no one will know the extent until the evidence and names are public.
Let's get a couple of things clear first - the Brumbies and Raiders have not been linked to any wrongdoing. Nor am I suggesting they will be in the future. But after Lance Armstrong's admission, the drama at Essendon, and now some rugby league clubs scrambling for answers, it would be naive not to ask the question.
The problem is no one knows the real extent or who the ring leaders are. It's easy to look through Raiders lime-green glasses or at the list of Brumbies legends and say: ''Nah, couldn't have happened in Canberra.'' The last place passionate fans want to look is at the team they support.
''We welcome the crackdown, we hope they get them and get rid of whoever is doing it,'' Raiders chief executive Don Furner said.
''If we found anything like that in our club, we would get rid of them. I trust other clubs would do the same. We're 100 per cent confident in the education programs we've got in place, the testing that's in place and the supplements being administered. Those are in our organisation and in our control.''
Lundy revealed on Friday the reasons for not releasing names and clubs. She said the Crime Commission report had to be released publicly before the ''important work'' could begin.
Fair enough, I can understand the legal implications and respect the process. But athletes are being unfairly tarnished.
Performance-enhancing drugs have plagued American sport for decades. Slowly, more and more former stars are being exposed for using steroids.
No one thought Australia would suffer as well, and even fewer people think it could infiltrate Canberra's teams.
The Raiders and the Brumbies are two of the most tested teams in Australian sport with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority on their doorstep.
It's not uncommon for Raiders players to be tested every week, or at least every fortnight, when officials need to ''get their testing numbers up''. The Brumbies are the same. And both clubs conduct in-house testing.
The Brumbies have formed a strong relationship with the Australian Institute of Sport to get their nutrition right and help create an out-of-training program to make them the best team in Super Rugby.
Brumbies coach Jake White said rugby had a ''massive clean slate'' when it came to drugs.
''We literally have drug testers come to our team more than any other sport because they're based in Canberra and that doesn't worry us,'' White said. ''That doesn't worry us because rugby has a massive clean slate. Everyone at the World Cup was tested and I don't think anyone was reported for testing positive. It's a great advert for rugby union in the world that we've managed to keep our sport drug-free.''
The reality is not every professional sportsperson is a drug cheat. They're not all corrupt doing match-fixing deals, either. But it only takes a bad few to sour the bunch.
Jam jars of urine discovered at the Gold Coast club headquarters, calf blood injections, questionable substances and crime figures - it hardly sounds like sport at its finest.
The critics of the ACC findings came out swinging on Friday. Not because they're sticking their heads in the sand and pretending Australian sport doesn't have its problems.
But because of the ''blanket'' statement that has been thrown over every professional sportsperson in the country.
The Penrith Panthers are having the sports science department investigated, but general manager Phil Gould said Thursday's revelations were doing more harm than good.
''It's a broad-brush condemnation of Australian sport everywhere,'' Gould said.
''At the moment everyone is guilty and I'm not sure … how you repair the integrity of everyone else who is in fact innocent.''
The guilty ones are still hiding and the innocent ones are answering questions about their sport's integrity.
Maybe officials are just trying to smoke out the rats: saying they have got the evidence and they'll find them, but waiting to see who breaks first and walks into the trap.
But until the dodgy players and drug cheats are named, there will be a shadow hanging over every sport in Australia.