GRASSROOTS sports are left waiting to see what, if any, fall-out might affect their games in Ballarat.
Australian sport has been rocked by revelations of the increased use of banned performance enhancing drugs in professional sport – and links to organised crime in doing so.
While the shock continues to play out, Ballarat grassroots bosses must wait to see what pans out.
North Ballarat Rebels regional manager Phil Partington, in charge of the region’s talented TAC Cup under-18 players, and Ballarat Football League chief executive officer Rod Ward say the AFL has always led the way in professionalising Australian sport.
They both cite the AFL’s racial vilification and respect and responsibility programs, including respect for women, as key policy and would continue to follow existing education unless instructed otherwise.
And both reiterated that there had been no official finding on concerns with Essendon Football Club yet.
Mr Partington said Rebels undertook extensive drug education sessions on AFL Victoria fitness testing in March, ongoing sessions through the season and players called up to AFL under-18 national championships had further sessions.
Any player drafted must go through an AFL induction camp where players were further educated.
“They get the education – at the end of the day, it’s an athlete’s responsibility,” Mr Partington said.
“They’re educated enough to know what they can and can’t take.
“At the Rebels we don’t encourage any supplements – our boys don’t even drink those caffeine drinks.”
BFL boss Rod Ward said it was impossible to say what impact this week’s revelations might have on country football.
Mr Ward said the BFL ran more training programs than any other country football league in Australia, including the use of drugs and alcohol on mental health.
“It’s not because we’re worried about the behaviour of our Ballarat Football League players but we feel that through football, we have the ability to affect change,” Mr Ward said.
Branching into other grassroots sports, Sports Central program manager Michael Flynn said their main message was for all sporting clubs to support a positive culture and to promote the right pathways in Ballarat sport.
Sports Central has established programs in alcohol, smoking and healthy eating awareness.
Mr Flynn said programs were based on evidence and any new policies and procedures on sporting supplements would depend largely on how ASADA’s findings panned out.
More on the scandal in Sport