Football: Another picture of why Waterloo swung into overreaction

There's a riddle going around.

Question: When do you try to stop steroid use on the backs of one CIS football team?

Answer: When the university president is up for governor-general.

That segues into the obvious next step in the University of Waterloo's hard line against performance abuse: banning the Internet on campus. It's the only way, people!
"Ordering steroids and human growth hormone through websites has become the single biggest way that those drugs are bought and sold, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"It's a multimillion-dollar shadow industry that is highly illegal, and very hard to police. And it's shipping its dangerous products to a mailbox near you." (Waterloo Region Record)
The two-and-two-together element is Waterloo's fake punishment might have had, oh, just a little with do with prez David Johnston being up for the viceregal post. There was probably a fear of taint-by-association for Johnston and the Conservative government, by extension.

Johnston was nowhere to be found when Waterloo sacked its program for at least 2010. No major media reports on his appointment mentioned, all together now, the biggest steroid scandal in Canadian university sports history.

At least the media is starting to put one and one together. Greg Mercer is one of the first reporters to put all this against a backdrop in which steroids are pretty much everywhere, making Waterloo's stance against "performance abuse" all the more ridiculous. Our example using nutritional supplement dealers was meant to show a gray area between legal and illegal. That distinction between legal and illegal, by the way, is founded on a fake concern about health risks that has been refuted over and over.
"Last year alone, agents with the Canadian Border Services Agency seized tens of thousands of dollars worth of steroids and growth hormone en route to mailing addresses in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge. Records of those seizures, obtained through federal Access to Information legislation, show that the postal service has become the new pipeline for dealers trying get their products past authorities to demanding customers.

"Some of the seized local shipments were as small as two glass vials of testosterone and boldenone, a type of steroid typically used for horses – worth about $100. Others packages that caught the eye of X-ray scanners at the border agency’s mail processing facility in Toronto included 950 pills of methandienone, an anabolic steroid used to aid muscle growth.

"A typical order to a Kitchener address was 500 yellow, diamond-shaped pills of Stanozolol – the steroid linked to sports doping scandals from Ben Johnson to Barry Bonds. Another seizure was of 500 Methanoplex tablets, a potent steroid that can cause estrogen-like effects in men."
Taking down one team cannot put a crimp in the pipeline of "raw steroid powder from China" making its way, though a middleman, to Canadians and Americans who are basically voting with their wallets that buying it should not be a crime. And that the notion of health risks is an old wives' tale.

However, Waterloo said it wanted to stop performance abuse. Evidently, it is neither here nor there that it would never index each engineering student's exam scores to the amount of caffeine he/she ingested. Caffeine, after all, increases brainpower over a short period.

People should realize, since the media haven't pointed it out, the U of Waterloo president was part of a sensitive government matter while a story was developing that was sure to have stickiness, due to post-hoc PED hysteria.

University highers-up must have also wondered, in recent years, if maintaining football was a useless fetish, an athletic atavism. Look at this way:
  • Football makes the biggest strain on a school or athletic department budget, and it also tends to be an old-money sport in both the U.S. and Canada.

  • UW is rich in many ways but doesn't put toward its sporting culture. The institution has "one of the lowest endowments of all large Canadian universities, something officials have been trying to improve over the last 10 years." Alumni are starting to donate a lot, but Waterloo alumni are not the type to give money to sports.

  • The Waterloo football team has missed the OUA playoffs for several seasons in succession. Attendance and interest in the team is tepid at best.

  • That leads to wondering: does football fit the nature of Waterloo, who attends and why they come? How do you build a communal feeling around football when a good portion of the student body is out on co-ops during the fall terms? If the answer is no, why keep it?
Throwing in Johnston's job change adds context to why Waterloo swung into overreaction over the past four months. It knew the drive-by media would buy their so-called stand against steroids.

Never mind swallowing that whole evokes a certainly socially awkward 11-year-old hitting the ceiling after listening to one classmate after another complain "why even have the Olympics?" during a discussion the morning after Johnson got DQ'd in '88.

(Some advice to any of you kids out there: yelling, "There's a lot of money riding on it and it's only cheating if you get caught!" won't make you the most popular kid in class. However, that is probably not going to happen regardless. It's also a more human response than indulging the PED hysteria that has persisted for two-thirds of my life.)

A better collective sanction would have been to suspend the full-time coaches and conduct a review. Instead, Waterloo acted punitively and harmed an entire league.

What we are after is threefold:
  1. The hypocrisy of the university: It nails one group of students for so-called performance abuse, while doing a Sgt. Schultz routine with it in other walks of university life.

  2. The false pretense for gutting the football Warriors. It is fine if UW wanted to discontinue football. It's a costly sport which is not for every school. Doing it this way is sneaky.

    The last athletic director to discontinue football, Drew Love at Carleton in 1999, made it clear where he was coming from.

  3. The inconvenience visited upon nine other OUA teams. And who knows if a couple copycat decisions won't come in the next 10 years.
That's about all. Presuming UW is really serious about being a bastion free of performance abuse in athletics, it should soon inform students that it's back to adding machines and manual typewriters this fall.

The Internet has helped facilitate the greatest revolution in how we work since Gutenberg invented movable type, but someone might order steroids on and spoil it for everyone else. Those scourges of modernity must be kept out. Waterloo really isn't a techie school, anyway.

Yeah, I know. Don't hold your breath.

Steroid websites deliver right to your door (Greg Mercer, Waterloo Region Record)
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


  1. with johnson moving on to GG, does this mean the jerk(provost)gets the top job? would make sense that weasel is trying to score political points, knowing that the Prez would be gone.

  2. Well, there goes our 100% no-idiotic-comment rate after disabling anonymous commenting. Let's try to keep it at 99.9% from now on, okay folks?

  3. Very good post... and good resume. Too many people getting out of there with clean hands...

  4. Great post Neate. MSM was all over the 'roid controversy, prior to the GG appointment.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. And Laurier will have a lot better team because they ducked and hide tight when the CCES knocked at their door... and now they are picking up all the fruits...

    I sincerely hope they loose this year...