2013 is a mere 43 days old but has already encapsulated enough sporting scandal to last a lifetime. Lance Armstrong’s astonishing doping escapades have been aired for all to see, European football finds itself immersed in strong match-fixing territory, the world’s top tennis players are calling for stricter drug regulations and a recent investigation into racism in UK football has once again, unearthed some ugly findings.
So at a time when stability in world sport is needed, quotes such as “if you want to cheat, we will catch you, if you want to fix a match, we will catch you,” from Australia’s Sports Minister Kate Lundy are merely adding to the integrity questions many people are asking about the sports we all love.
For a nation with the sporting pedigree of Australia, to find itself embroiled in a doping/match-fixing investigation, of which the limits are completely unknown, is incredibly dangerous. This latest investigation adds to the growing notion within world sport that cheating is rife and the desire to ‘beat the game’ and claim the rewards for being successful, are far outweighing any moral or logical thought processes for top athletes.
…a treacherous mine-field…
On February 7 it was announced to the world that a 12 month Australian Crime Commission (ACC) investigation had revealed the increasing use of performance-enhancing drugs across multiple codes/sports and highlighted many links with organised crime groups. Perhaps the most alarming element of last Thursday’s announcement was the appearance of the federal justice minister along with the sports minister at the press conference, flanked by the heads of the five major sporting organisations in the country – Australian football, rugby league, rugby union, cricket and soccer – indicating that this investigation is different to the aforementioned instances. This is not an individual case like Lance Armstrong, it’s not an issue within a particular sport like the match-fixing in European football, this investigation is nationwide, encompasses all sports and brings all sporting organisations, officials and players into question.
It is unquestionable that people get in to sport for the love of the game: scoring goals, serving aces, kicking conversions and hitting sixes in front of capacity crowds are in the dreams of children all over the world. But staying in the game and becoming a successful, elite athlete is a treacherous mine-field with advice from coaches, parents and agents having a huge influence on the way individual careers pan out. Sporting fans often regard their heroes and heroines as ‘super human’ by their performances on the pitch but perhaps, in Australia it is the rather human nature of greed – that is powering athletes and their associates, to find corrupt ways of ensuring their future’s and staying on top of the game.
…the ‘darkest day in Australian sport’…
Richard Ings, the former head of the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA) described last Thursday as the ‘darkest day in Australian sport’.
If other sporting nations don’t take notice of Australia’s open and firm stance on corruption in sport – all sports, all over the world could be encountering some very ‘dark days’ in the not too distant future.