"We've never had a situation where a sport has been stopped, a team has been banished for something that a relatively small group of individuals did. Therein lies the problem that I have with it."A caller pointed out a running back who has trained clean (quote, unquote) might not want to get hit by a linebacker who is goosed up on steroids, pointing out doping is different in individual sports. McCown retorted:
"The reality is, go to the National Football League, because (steroid users are) all there. And so I have this level of sympathy for the athlete that does this. The culture is such. The belief is now that you must take steroids in order to make it to professional football. That's tragic. It's tragic. Having said that, when you catch guys, you must punish them and punish them strenuously. I have no sympathy for the (Waterloo Warriors) athletes who took. I don't want to take their academic lives away from them, but I am absolutely prepared to take their athletic careers away from them.One agreement is that a punishment had to be collective. McCown, who has a little more editorial freedom, is among the first to publicly wonder about the role of the Waterloo coaching staff, even going so far to say "cover-up."
"This kind of action must result in a deterrent. But banishing the program doesn't accomplish that objective.
"Banishing the individuals does. Punishing the innocent is ridiculous. Not even doing any kind of examination or research into the coaching staff, their roles or knowledge of this, is an outrage. This is, was one of the most obscene, premature, poorly thought out decisions I could ever recall.
"I mean, I'd fire the provost (vice-president Feridun Hamdullahpur) and the president of the university (David Lloyd Johnson) and the dean and whoever else is responsible for this decision, including the athletic director (Bob Copeland), who I suspect had virtually no say in this. My guess is that while the athletic director has been on this station and said that he endorses this decision, he himself is covering his ass. I cannot believe that he endorsed that kind of decision. And if he really did, I'd fire him too."
Suspending the coaching staff, which would essentially kneecap Waterloo's prep for the season, putting the team on some kind of probation pending a review during the 2010-11 academic year, might have been a better way to go. It's a collective punishment that would only run one season.
What we are left with is neither a true punishment nor a one-season penalty. The fact CIS says the players could take part in this season, just not at Waterloo. Waterloo also claimed its decision would "exonerate the innocent." Only a handful of the innocent will actually get to play.
That's more inconsistent than, well, Waterloo's offensive production.
" 'Bob (Copeland) told us, you guys are going to have a season coming up in the fall, so I want you guys to say that through the media outlets," wide receiver Dustin Zender said. “We were led to believe, by Bob and by the upper administration that came on to the field that, we were going play 100 per cent and they had our backs. They said they would be there to come to our games, too.'The ramifications will echo across several seasons, especially if they have only 38 players at camp (Carl Zender's claim) to start 2011. That is close to what Mount Allison's numbers were in 2001w when it lost 105-nothing to Saint Mary's. What would sending out a scrub team do for the competitive integrity of CIS?
"UW athletics countered these statements without denying them.
" 'The basic thrust of what I said, and I completely would say again today and do the same thing tomorrow, is I'm here and this is not here just to catch the guilty, this is to exonerate the innocent and to remove a cloud of suspicion that would no doubt be on the team,' Copeland said."
There is so much more to say. Mark Masters provided a timeline of the week, including a link to some good points by Hamilton Tiger-Cats coach Marcel Bellefeuille, who was an Ottawa Gee-Gees assistant coach when that team had a couple players test positive in 1997. (Ottawa, on an unrelated matter, was later stripped of its Churchill Bowl win over Waterloo, ironically.)
Bellefeuille nailed it: Education and prevention, not prohibition, is a better answer, unless some rich uncle wants to donate a million dollars to test everyone in CIS. The reality CIS would need more money to run a proper testing program puts the lie to pathologically nostalgic ex-players' asinine arguments we need a more amateurish league. It needs to get more professional, if anything. People jump to conclusions this came out of a win-at-all-costs mentality, which no one who has followed Waterloo through some recent lean seasons would ever say. If anything, playing football at a school which was
Something else that really grates is that Waterloo acted like everything is so cut-and-dried with steroids. It gave into the gotcha culture, the zero-tolerance mentality that is choking the life out of high school and post-secondary education.
The media have to stop being enablers. David Grossman actually did a blog post headlined, "Why Not Randomly Drug Test High School Athletes?" (That's right up there with the "Editorial: Why not let dead pets vote?" newspaper headline in The Simpsons episode when Sideshow Bob rigs the mayoralty election.) Not to get off-message, but how would telling a self-conscious teen she might have to urinate in a cup reverse the slow death of high school track and field? (If you can find it, Jeff Dertinger, the Simcoe Reformer sports editor wrote a great column correlating the dearth of mass participation in track and field with the obesity epidemic.)
It goes no good to indulge "roid madness." The dopers will just get more resourceful. Did the University of Waterloo ever notice the supplement industry is barely regulated, too? Remember when that ballplayer J.C. Romero got a 50-game drug suspension, said it was from something he bought at a GNC, and it turned out it was made by BALCO? (Yes, that BALCO.)
Grey areas, people. Smart people can sift throught shades of grey. Waterloo has the most collective brainpower of any school in Canada, but not this week.
(The last thing is to say people should keep an eye peeled for progress on Warrior Field. If the renovations continue, that has to be a good sign the team returns. Oh, and your uppance shall come, Stephen Valeriote.)