Former All Blacks hooker and legend Sean Fitzpatrick, who was often considered one of the best rugby players to come out of New Zealand, which is truly high praise, given what the two tiny islands have produced, played in 92 games as an All Black.
One interesting historical artifact regarding Fitzpatrick is that he helped the Kiwis win against France when most of the Kiwi 15 was suspended for participating in the Cavaliers Tour that toured South Africa in 1986 to play the Springboks. The issue at that time was that the players received substantial secret payments at a time when rugby union was still considered an amateur sport.
Which, we suppose, only goes to show that Fitzpatrick may have been up to some hijinks and that his comments regarding the current issue of rugby player doping should be taken with a grain of salt, so long as that salt does not help players to play better.
It is Fitzpatrick’s belief that performance-enhancingsubstances will never be completely stamped out and that the only possible solution is to hand out harsher penalties.
Rather begs the question: If it were not possible to stamp out doping, what purpose would harsher penalties serve?
In sports, or society in general for that matter, those who choose to game the system of laws can only do so as long as they harbour the conviction that they can escape detection.
Will the four-year suspensions handed out to Kiwi players Glen Robertson, Zoey Berry, Rhys Pedersen and Ben Qauquad-Dodds deter them from playing in the future and more importantly, will it deter any who are contemplating doping for the purpose of enhanced performance?
History suggests that punishment of this sort is a weak deterrent.
Among other comments, Fitzpatrick said, “We need to ensure that drugs in sport is such a no-no. We all need to work together, not just rugby but all sports, we all need to collaborate to make sure we have the right processes.”
Ultimately, the root of the problem is that the cheaters always seem to be one step ahead of the enforcers.