For those who listen to our podcasts, you may recall the topic of all supplies of Meldonium, the drug that Maria Sharapova had taken that is now on the banned list sold out on the internet within 48 hours. Many in sporting circles believing that many amateur or semi professional athletes may be resorting to the drug to enhance their performance.
The FFA Cup is one of the few sporting competitions in Australia that sees full time athletes compete against semi-professional athletes on an even playing field. As most sports fans would be well aware the full time professional players are randomly tested on a regular basis,but the question raised was if this is to be an even competition were the semi-professional athletes tested randomly after matches?
Not the Footy Show contacted the FFA on the 24th of March to try and find out the situation. No response was forthcoming initially but three more emails and almost three weeks later a response was received from Kyle Patterson, Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications.
He advised “Because of the random and confidential nature of anti-doping programs, I’m not in a position to comment on if or when testing would occur for non-A-League teams in the Westfield FFA Cup matches.”
Mr Patterson also stated that “the current focus of the FFA-ASADA program are Australia’s National Teams, Hyundai A-League teams, Westfield W-League teams and the Foxtel National Youth League teams.”
Having checked with the equivalent competition in the England, the long-running FA Cup, any player from any team competing may be tested by their authorities, ensuring that it is indeed a level playing field.
With grave concerns over drug use outside the top level of a number of sports and those with aspirations to be “spotted” or have their moment in the spotlight, there is a feeling that testing will have to move outside of just professional sports. Yet sadly the various drug testing bodies are currently struggling to keep up with the cheats at the top level, so many fear they will never look into trying to police the lower echelons of the sporting world.
With a competition such as the FFA Cup should all competing be open to being tested? Mr Patterson did say in his response in relation to ASADA, who are responsible for testing in Australia, “the agency may choose to test any athlete in any FFA-sanctioned event.”
Certainly some A-League players believe that if it is good enough for them to be tested after an FFA Cup match why not the NPL side’s players too?
The question for ASADA though is where do they stop their testing? Are they there to prevent people thinking about cheating, or are they trying to catch cheats?
There is no doubt that drugs in sport are a huge issue and one wonders if there is the manpower to stay on top of it, especially as long as those producing the enhancing drugs continue to make money from supplying athletes at all levels.
It is very sad that this topic even needs to be discussed.