Football: Assorted notes on Waterloo and the CFL's new drug-testing policy

There are a couple of related items in the news lately, so we're just going to combine them all into one post and offer commentary here.

First, as part of the new CFL collective bargaining agreement, the league and the players have agreed to introduce a year-round drug-testing policy. Just one look at the document makes it clear that it's not a response to the recent troubles in CIS.

However, CFL chief operating officer Michael Copeland (brother to Waterloo athletic director Bob Copeland) told The Record that while the policy was "largely complete" when the news broke at UW, "we did not yet have our agreement to fund testing of (Canadian university) players."

That agreement (which is actually independent of the policy itself, and make of that what you will) stipulates that the CFL will "help fund the testing of the top 80 Canadian Interuniversity Sport prospects for that year’s CFL Evaluation Camp and CFL Canadian Draft." PR-wise, this might work: "CFL To Test CIS Players; CIS Now Clean." Or something to that effect. But three thoughts about that:
  1. It's not always the top prospects who are using. So the testing of these top players, on its own, is not a complete solution for CIS. It's a big step forward, and its focus on enhanced performance is welcome, but more is needed, if CIS wishes to be serious about making the league clean.

  2. What about top NCAA prospects coming to the CFL?

  3. Now that we have a list of banned substances, and the use of any of them in CIS counts as a first strike with respect to the CFL's policy, an enterprising reporter could take Appendix D from this PDF, then go to the well-known supplement franchise with several locations in the country (some close to university campuses) and whose website lists product categories like "anabolic agents" and "pure creatine powders," then find something with lots of levels of one of the banned substances in it, then ask how many of those products have been sold recently to young men. But I guess that's too esoteric a task.


Our next topic is transfers. Someone will have to start a count of former Waterloo football players who have officially transferred, or are very much expected to transfer, to another school. One's gone to Queen's, and this article alone has up to six: two or three going to Laurier (although more have apparently contacted the school), one to McMaster, one to NCAA-bound SFU, and one to Calgary.

It's the WLU ones that are interesting. Not necessarily from a football standpoint, but because of the following:
Laurier is an attractive option for the nine or so Warriors who’ve made inquiries about the Golden Hawks because those players could be admitted as visiting students, WLU’s athletic director Peter Baxter said.

Provided the players can find appropriate courses and get a letter of permission from UW, those players will be allowed to study and play at Laurier, while earning credits toward their UW degrees.
It's interesting because it's a clean solution to a messy problem. Some in the drive-by media may pick up on this and act outraged that someone can play football for Laurier while earning a Waterloo degree. Few of these will understand the arrangement these two schools have. Fewer still will have studied at either institution. It's simply not a big deal. Waterloo students take courses at Laurier all the time, and once they're enrolled at WLU, it makes perfect sense to allow them to participate in a varsity sport which UW no longer offers.


And while we're on the topic of a sport Waterloo no longer offers, let's take a quick look at what friend of the blog Mark Masters wrote in the National Post:
"The Hamilton Tiger-Cats may figure in a plan to help the University of Waterloo football program survive a one-year suspension. But the president of the Canadian Football League club, Scott Mitchell, wants assurances from the school that it is serious about football:

"The Ticats would be willing to do a great deal if we knew that the commitment from the administration was there to make sure that any commitment on our behalf was worth doing," Mitchell said. "We have a million different ways to spend our time and resources and we're not going to spend it on somebody who is not serious about building a credible and good football program."


"I'm not sure anyone else outside the athletic department has an understanding of the impact that the decision to suspend the team is going to have not just on the football program, but the athletic department as a whole," Mitchell said.

Did you feel that? That was Scott Mitchell smacking Waterloo's senior management in the face.

(Mitchell, a member of Toronto's 1993 Vanier Cup team, might know a thing or two about how a football program can be bled dry by administration.)


And now that we've arrived at Waterloo's upper management, there's another topic that's worth bringing up, mostly for kicks. Some sources have quoted Bud Walker, who is Waterloo's associate provost of student services, in relation to the football troubles. Earlier, Feridun Hamdullahpur ("Vice-President Academic & Provost") was quoted in media coverage, and he was apparently the one who made the decision to suspend the team. And of course Bob Copeland, the athletic director, was involved, media-wise, at all stages.

Are you, like me and Neate, wondering why university president David Johnston didn't say a thing? Especially when he actually favoured the decision?

Well, no wonder he couldn't be found at Waterloo: He was at Rideau Hall.

Figuratively, that is.

One could assume that Johnston didn't put himself into the football story, because doing so might have taken him out of the governor-general story. It wouldn't do for Canada's Next Viceregal Representative to be associated in any way with what is incessantly called the biggest doping scandal in CIS history (by people who can't name another one). Actually, the fact that Waterloo's football team is not mentioned in that Globe and Mail article kind of proves my point.

(To clarify: Johnston's a perfectly cromulent choice for the gig, had precious little to do with the football team, and we can't blame him for avoiding this mess, if that's what he did. Just thought we should bring it up.)


So, to recap:

  • There's a CFL drug testing policy that might catch some of the CIS users;
  • Many Waterloo players are getting away from UW faster than they've ever gotten away from the pass rush; and
  • At least one CFL franchise isn't optimistic that there will ever be Warrior football again.

(Not to mention the extant police investigation, which has already included charges against two former players, and UW's own internal investigation.)

As Craig Silverman would say: "Rest is fine."
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