Second Year at UTS, studying Bachelor Communication (Journalism/Digital & Social Media). Love to write about anything interesting! Sports, Politics, World and Current Affairs. Twitter: @Tom_Scambler Email: email@example.com
Drug culture in Australian sport is again under the spotlight following the latest scandal involving legendary former AFL player and coach Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson.
Victorian Police arrested Thompson for drug trafficking and possession on Tuesday, reigniting concerns that there is a strong recreational drug culture among athletes and coaches in Australian sport.
Thompson, who played in three premierships with Essendon and coached Geelong to two flags, was granted bail.
“It is not surprising because we put so much pressure on them and their performance,” according to Dr James Connor from UNSW Canberra, who has researched drugs in sport.
“While they [athletes] are playing there is a lot of stress, it is a very difficult industry to be engaged in… so that’s where we see players using recreational drugs as a means of relaxation,” Dr Connor said.
The 54 year-old was charged on Tuesday with several counts of drug possession and trafficking after quantities of ecstasy, methyl amphetamine, ephedrine and Xanax tablets were allegedly found at his Port Melbourne home.
Thompson is just one of numerous Australian sporting stars caught possessing or dealing illicit drugs in recent years.
- In 2007, AFL legend Ben Cousins and Australian Rugby League captain, Andrew Johns were both arrested for drug possession.
- Sporting-code hopper, Karmichael Hunt was also fined earlier this year for similar offences.
Illicit drug use has become more wide-spread across many Australian sporting codes raising questions about the prevailing culture.
Dr Connor said that drug use in sport could be attributed to social pressures and leadership also played a role.
“Most of the doping we see, particularly in team sports, happens when somebody who is important in the team starts it,” Dr Connor said.
“Everyone just does what they’re told, because ultimately you follow what the most experienced players and coaches tell you to do.”
“Team culture and team leadership is so important in preventing many of these behaviours… it is very difficult to stand up in an organisation, against actions that aren’t right,” Dr Connor said.
“The way we treat them [athletes] is not fair or right and we really have to rethink how we deal with both performance enhancing and recreational drug use.”
“Once you are part of a sub-culture which is happy to use illicit drugs, then you are going to continue."