One of the most common things we will hear as a result of the Essendon 34’s suspension this morning is that we should feel sorry for the players impacted. We shouldn’t.
By all means the players have every reason to be angry at the Essendon Football Club and may even have cause to sue those who implemented the program or the club. What they cannot do is claim no responsibility for the situation they have found themselves in.
As a professional athlete it is your responsibility to know what is being put into your body, the players are educated that the buck ultimately stops with them and ignorance has not been an excuse in a long time.
Players cannot claim naivety and ultimately, must know what is going into their bodies and must ask the right questions. As a professional athlete there is no excuse for not doing so.
In 2003 ignorance was not an excuse for Shane Warne. It wasn’t an excuse for Ahmed Saad in 2013. It should not be an excuse for any professional athlete.
Importantly this case serves as a warning to all professional athletes and in particualr serves a sa wake up call to all young AFL players and surely helps ensure that the AFL and other sports are less likely to be impacted by performance enhancing drugs.
The fact that the players are only receiving a 12-month ban when it could have been 24-months is already a win for the players. Hopefully the players, the AFL and the Essendon Football Club take their medicine and allow everyone to move on from what has been an extremely detrimental situation for the game.