ROOSTERS coach Gerard FitzGerald says he has seen no evidence of widespread doping in country football.
But he warned players need to be vigilant to avoid accidently stepping over the mark into dangerous territory.
North Ballarat will conduct its annual pre-season camp at Lorne this weekend as football comes to grips with the storm engulfing the code. FitzGerald said people should “reserve judgement” until the full facts are known about drug use in the AFL but admitted it was a timely reminder of the dangers.
“I don’t think country sport is rife with (performance enhancing drugs). I don’t think many country athletes have the access or the finances for it,” FitzGerald said.
“Local sport is still mainly recreation and less about winning and losing.
“The higher the level, though, and the more it is about winning and losing, the more is at stake both for the club and the individual.
“Personally, I’ve seen no evidence and the VFL has its own testing.
“Those of us who love the sport believe it is important to be vigilant.
“The first thing is the integrity of the game remains paramount.
“The public expects a thorough investigation but there have been some wild accusations.”
Fitzgerald said North Ballarat had followed the guidelines for sports supplements as provided by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. He said it was important to consider that there were natural substances, such as vitamins, administered as supplements that were not illegal, although the list of banned substances changed from time to time.
“Our sports science people conduct a drug education forum for the players, advising what can and can’t be taken,” he said.
“The players are in constant contact with those who have the knowledge such as the club doctor and the sports science people.
“There are natural substances that can be taken that assist recovery.
“ASADA has got an extensive list (of banned substances).
“It is the players’ responsibility to check the banned list because it changes.
“Pseudoefedrine was once legal but is now on the list.
“Caffeine, also, there was once a time when you could have an unlimited amount and now you can’t.”