Tonight on SBS's Insight, former AFL coach David Parkin breaks his silence on the Australian sports doping scandal. He says that during his time working for different clubs, he 'got rid of people' whom he suspected were not 'operating above board'.
“I've been down that path where we've got rid of people who serviced the needs of players,” he tells Insight's Jenny Brockie.
“We changed them because they weren't doing the job in the way that we expect them to do.
He adds: “I'm not really sure about it, but there was some evidence to suggest that might be so, and we weren't prepared to take a risk that there might be somebody in the place that wasn't operating all above board.”
Its key findings identified widespread doping in professional sport, along with possible match-fixing and manipulation of betting markets.
In the wake of the ACC report findings, Parkins joins former football players, cyclists, and current sports scientists on Insight to discuss where professional sport is heading and who is ultimately responsible for the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Parkins says sports scientists have become increasingly influential in clubs and believes the pressure for coaches to get an edge over their competitors means everyone is tempted to bend the rules.
But the pressure isn't just on coaches.
Ryan Cross, a former rugby player for the Roosters, the Western Force and the Waratahs says the players themselves are often faced with immense pressure to perform, especially after an injury.
“To get back to the level where you want to be… some people [might] want to take shortcuts,” he tells Insight. “There's a lot of pressure and there's a lot of money involved.… I understand why people would turn to [performance enhancing drugs].”
Former Vice Captain of Essendon AFL club, Andrew Welsh says he was shocked to hear the club was being investigated for possible breaches of the World Anti-Doping Authority code.
However, he believes it's reasonable to go as close to the edge as possible, as long as it's legal.
“There's been supplements from when I was playing. Obviously they're a lot more advanced now and the way that they're taking them.
“But there was no players that raised any concerns… because you do put a trust in the club and put trust now in these sports scientists,” he tells Insight.
“They are there to do what's best for you as a person… but also to get you to that level to be able to compete without stepping over the line.”
Sport scientist and High Performance Manager at Port Adelaide AFL club says the increasing influence of sports scientists is a positive move as they are trained in monitoring things such as fatigue levels.
Although he concedes that there needs to be more regulation of sports scientists, he disagrees with the widespread backlash against the profession.
“I think it's a gross generalisation to say [doping] is happening everywhere because of what is allegedly happening at one club.
“Sports scientists are being painted as people with test tubes and goggles on and mixing formulas to make players look like 'he-men', and that's clearly not what we do.
“What we do is look after the welfare of the player and try and maximise performance. And that's not always, in fact it's rarely with supplements.”
Catch Insight tonight at 8.30PM on SBS One.
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