Throughout the AFL drug scandal, media scapegoats have caught the brunt of malicious insinuations. Speculation regarding Richmond’s perennial scapegoat, Dustin Martin, has again risen in the past few days.
The AFL confirmed that one other AFL player, aside from those at Essendon, had been taking performance-enhancing drugs. Martin’s tarnished history with former Tiger Daniel Connors led some AFL media circles to infer that Martin may be the other confirmed player that took performance enhancing drugs. Furthermore, rumours regarding Martin being sacked by Richmond also arose, yet clearly they have not come to fruition.
These two rumours regarding Martin may have been initially bolstered by the untimely resignation of Richmond’s general manager Craig Cameron. The somewhat suspect timing of his resignation was instantly clarified after Cameron said he is pursuing a career in the horse racing industry, but some theorists believe that this resignation indicates that Richmond may be the second club caught up in the doping frenzy.
It’s interesting to note that when the issue of recreational drugs in AFL arose, Dustin Martin was one of the first players to unfairly accused.
These allegations naturally have put Martin in the spotlight, yet it is outrageous at this stage to claim that Martin is a drug cheat or that he will be exiled from the Tigers, as there has been nary a shred of evidence to support this. Whilst Cameron’s resignation came in during a vicious time in the AFL, there has been no backlash towards his decision to leave, yet his resignation has allowed the speculation surrounding Martin to grow.
It seems that Martin is an easy target, and many in media circles have neglected his wonderful performance against the Indigenous All Stars and instead turned the spotlight back onto his chequered history. This is not to say that Martin is not the player speculated to be using performance-enhancing drugs, but rather the media should be very careful who it names as a potential drug cheat when there is little evidence to back up the speculation.
Media groups and certain personalities should be on edge about any claims they make regarding drugs in footy, especially following Stephen Dank’s announcement that he would be suing media outlets for $10mil for defamation. Insinuation over whether Martin took performance-enhancing drugs or if he will be sacked from the Tigers could be looked upon as defamation as well, depending on how it is phrased. In times like these where the dignity of the game may falter, it is imperative that journalists and media circles ensure that the integrity of the players is not overlooked whilst the chase is on to break the big stories first.
Martin’s profile as a tough guy was once built upon his ferocious game style, but that has ballooned to a reputation built upon rumours and speculation. It remains to be seen whether either of the rumours regarding Martin are true, but until anything is proven, it is best that this whole non-story is filed away.