ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 27

Drugs – not a short cut to fame

Tradition in India maintains that the gods sent man the Hemp plant so that he might attain delight, courage, and have heightened sexual desires. When nectar or Amrita dropped down from heaven, Cannabis sprouted from it. Another story tells how, when the gods, helped by demons, churned the milk ocean to obtain Amrita, one of the resulting nectars was Cannabis. It was consecrated to Shiva and was the goddess Indra’s favorite drink. After the churning of the ocean, demons attempted to gain control of Amrita, but the gods were able to prevent this seizure, giving Cannabis the name Vijaya (“victory”) to commemorate their success. Ever since, this plant of the gods, has been held in India to bestow supernatural powers on its users. Plants of the Gods - Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schulte's and Albert Hoffman Healing Arts Press (Vermont) 1992.

Good and interesting except that today the use of cannabis and its derivatives are a banned substance in the world of sports and folk lore and or defense of its medicinal properties is not of any use if you are found positive. Cannabis is on the list of prohibited substances in the practice of sport, although its performance enhancing effect has not yet been proved. Its popularity among the younger generations as a social drug puts cannabis at the top of the list of compounds detected by the anti-doping laboratories accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency worldwide.

At the last ASIAD held in Colombo the testing for the use of banned substances was put into place by ARFU with the active support of the IRB. This testing has brought about a new entry into the rugby history of Sri Lanka with one of it players being found positive and as reported it has been the use of Cannabis. ‘Ganja’ as it was popularly known has and is being used in a social context as well as a medicine. The hard fact however and whatever way you may want to argue; is the use of a banned substance. Whether it is by a habitual user or a one time mistakenly taken by an innocent will not help to quell the smoke that rises with the detection.

The important discussion that should follow is ‘where to from here and what we do’. There is no use in pointing fingers. When you point at others there will also be three pointing towards you. Neither is there any point giving excuses as some of them could be very naive.

As stated very simply by the President of the SLRFU Nimal Lewke, the need is to conduct programs for players and club officials to educate them on drugs. Lewke quoted in a local newspaper says “Most of the players have no clue about drugs and how to guard them against banned substances.” It is this that has to be understood by all interested in the administration and coaching of the game rugby as we face this new issue.

This now is an opportunity to discuss as well as accuse and or give explanations of various sorts. The questions of who used it and where does he come from, and where does he play or what is his background or to empathies that it was a casual use is not what is needed.

What is needed is to understand that there has been the use and there may be others who are in the habit of using not only this substance but other performance enhancing substances. What is needed is to start learning about the use and to educate those responsible for management and or coaching to be aware of the bad side.

There are substances that are banned in sport but are taken as it is accepted in social use. The use in a social sense might be considered simple use but can lead to abuse as well as to be habitual. The use of drugs that are socially acceptable can lead to the use of stronger performance enhancers that can be dangerous. Now that an issue has surfaced in Sri Lanka it is best to be vigilant and take corrective action as the concern is very much manageable. The need is also there to educate users of some substances that may be necessary for therapeutic purposes. Such uses should take note to get the necessary therapeutic usage exemptions.

What has happened has happened and the silver lining is that it is a warning signal to be aware. It is the duty therefore of all that are involved in the game of rugby whether it be at national, club or school level, to be aware. The argument that we did not know (I have heard it from some coaches) or we were not told are not valid excuses. IRB regulation 21 has been in the books for a long time reviewed in 2002 rewritten in 2004 and amended in 2005.

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