Few other sports in the world can claim to have the same high drug testing numbers that Rugby League has.
Over the years we have seen players testing positive to Performance Enhancing Drugs as well as other street drugs, and while it is almost impossible to get everyone, Rugby League authorities on both sides of the world have given their best in getting as many as they possibly can.
This was brought into light recently with Terry Newton becoming the first athlete ever to test positive to Human Growth Hormone, a fact that has been given world wide press attention.
While some see positive drug tests in Rugby League as a major blight on the game, I honestly believe it is good news when someone gets caught. It shows the drug users that the clock is ticking, that its just a matter of time before it is their name in the news.
Most importantly though, the bans Rugby League hands out for testing positive to banned drugs are as long as any other sport in the world.
Terry Newton received a two year ban for testing positive to HGH. Gareth Hock also received a two year ban for testing positive to Cocaine.
Put that into perspective with other sports.
In the NFL a nose tackle named Jason Ferguson received an 8 game suspension for testing positive to a performance enhancing drug. Thats a two month ban!
In the NBA Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis recieved a 10 day suspension for testing positive to Testosterone. Ten days, thats not even a fortnight!
In Rugby Union Australia’s Justin Harrison was give an 8 month ban for three charges, one of which included missing a club drug test and yelling to younger players at his English club at the time “Class A, its OK”.
Under World Anti Doping Association rules (By which the NRL and RLF work by) Harrison should have received a 2 year ban. The RFU however deemed it would have been an out of competition test, so Harrison basically got the off season and two extra months as a suspension.
These type of weak bans and loop holes are used by a number of sporting organizations around the world.
In the AFL, you have to test positive to an illegal drug three times before you get suspended. You just about have to be a drug addict who no longer cares about the consequences of your actions before they even lift a finger.
Keep in mind the AFL is the same competition where former West Coast Eagles player and self confessed meth addict Ben Cousins managed to get by without testing positive for drugs once, and was only caught out when the police arrested him!
He got all of 12 months out of the game, and was back playing in the AFL once his ban was over.
Rugby League can still do more to make sure it gets as many drug users out of the game as possible, but at least fans can take heart in knowing that no sporting organization anywhere in the world does more to find drug cheats, and then ban them to the fullest extent possible.
There are many sports out there that have a lot to learn from The Greatest Game Of All.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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