‘Keep rugby clean’ cries IRB

The Sunday Times has on many occasions been writing about the prevention of doping in sports including the use of supplements that may contain banned substances. The view has always been that the game must be clean and related to the IRB pursuit of ‘Keep Rugby Clean ‘.

It was encouraging to note that the SLRFU organized another workshop on 13th March to educate Club, School as well as Provincial Union Officials. I say another as this is not the first that was done despite the offenders found to have taken banned substances pleading ignorance as they have not been educated. It is no secret that three players were detected action has been taken. If more than two members of a Team are found to have committed an anti doping rule violation during a Match, Tournament or International Tour, “The entity with jurisdiction over the Match, Tournament or International Tour shall impose an appropriate sanction on the Team (e.g. loss of points, Disqualification from a Match, Tournament or International Tour and/or other sanction) in addition to any Consequences of Anti-Doping Rule Violations imposed upon the individual Team member(s) committing the anti-doping rule violations”.

Therefore this case is not over and the SLRFU were expected to submit its observations and that was to be completed by the end of February and the IRB determination to be communicated in March. Since the players had pleaded ignorance as well as attempted to place blame on the management it is left to the council to the union to present its case. The advantage the Union had was that the IRB in its inquires had virtually disregarded the attempt of the players to shift responsibility.

The Union has documented proof that more than reasonable action has been taken and that they will not be subject to censure. In 2011 they have conducted 52 anti-doping tests keeping in line with the philosophy to keep rugby clean. The SLRFU has included relevant clauses in the tournament handbook of 2010 and in 2011 the paragraphs were expanded. Thus the union has adequately protected itself. That is not all they have held workshops that have been well attended. Despite that clubs schools as well as other affiliates have been in attendance the message it seems has not been communicated and or not understood. Defense also includes that players are not very English literate as such they have not understood what is on the label. Speaking to officials I was made to understand that there have been workshops and or explanations conducted in Sinhala. Enough knowledge has been disseminated so that a player can understand to check with a medical professional.

It might be of interest to analyze the list of participants at workshops over the last three years to find out the people who have attended. Are they persons with adequate authority to take and or implement the message. My experience is that some of them who attend meetings are sent so that there is an attendance sheet marked where the body is represented. This is where the stakeholders involved must send responsible individuals not a head that can be included for the count. If the governing body for rugby is taking all steps to educate then there is no use if you keep on blaming them when you do not contribute to put into practice what they preach. The issue requires more attention by all stakeholders who have to take serous look. This time around the union has gone further and has distributed two books titled Anti -Doping Handbook and the Anti-Doping regulation. The second book is the schedule 1 of the IRB regulation 21 on Anti-Doping.

The unions I understand have got all national members from the national pool to sign a letter of declaration accepting that they have been educated and they have understood on what is expected. They have also issued two books.

Speaking about supplements one former national rugby player asked me what the players were expecting building muscle as though they were body builders. He explained that the game needs an athlete that can shine in rugby and not a muscleman. Muscleman he says become slow and also has less agility. I was also told that there are supplements that are certified to not contain any substance banned by WADA. While I cannot give names of products or the companies it is best to consult a medical professional and the sports ministry medical unit is always at hand with help. Another told me how he saw a cricketer pumping heavy weights the day before the big match. It look as though the need for professional guidance is there more than before. The sports law may be good to play politics does it help to regulate the sport like in other countries were every Tom Dick and Harry are not allowed to coach , train or even run a gym unless qualified .

Reading what s transpired at an inquiry and that according to submission the supplement drink that contained the banned substance was freely available and was brought by a rookie. An ex player asked a question “how come a fresher barely out of schools brings this and most consume it?” He went on to say that in the dressing room there is little chance for a rookie to dominate and he talks form experience.

Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

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