Let’s be entirely honest with ourselves here. Football supporters, are you completely shocked that there is an investigation for performance enhancing drugs or questionable substance use in the competition? Does it shake you to your very core that clubs subvert systems put in place to make sure that the competition is an equal playing field?
Your answer should be pretty straight forward. There is no need to subject Essendon to vigorous scrutiny, as that will come from investigators. Independent ones, mind you, not the opaque and feet-dragging work of the AFL’s.
There’s an important question we must begin to ask of our game, as in the last six months we have increasingly been subjected to rort after embarrassing rort.
This is the list of investigations: Melbourne for tanking, Adelaide for salary cap rorting, multiple football clubs for illegal drugs and third-party deals and now performance-enhancing substances.
It appears either those in charge have completely lost the plot and are unable to do their basic jobs in enforcing all these things so that they don’t happen under their watch, or have looked the other way and exist in a state of constant damage control when it goes public.
Unfortunately, stone-walling and omitting key processes from public view only makes things much worse than it is. Speculation pervades fact, and without anyone addressing these issues head on, it becomes something bigger and badder than it actually is.
No amount of positive press or PR spin will shake what is an increasingly disturbing trend in our game, as there are more and more issues that the AFL is losing complete control over.
Something is very, very rotten to the core in football and it has to be fixed. Deep down we are aware that this is a competitive competition and some will subvert the rules to get ahead, however, we don’t want to believe it.
This is more than digging the boots into Essendon, Melbourne or Adelaide when they are down. This is about the farcical nature that our code has descended into in the last six months. The AFL is at times criticised unfairly for no reason on certain issues, however, an explanation is warranted to the fans this time.
Andrew Demetriou and company have to make a firm stand instead of allowing the ‘all press is good press’ creed to do their job. This is the time that they need to crack down on the subversion of fairness in our game. Stop complaining that it’s fair when overwhelming evidence says otherwise.
It’s spiralling out of control, and unless zero tolerance punishments are handed down to those who are caught, this will go on and on.