Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hamilton: Who's The Dope?

Proof yesterday that a drugs scandal in sport does not necessarily need to be subjected to full bellowing of red-top outrage.

Quietly and with little fuss Hamilton's Simon Mensing has served a month long drugs ban after failing a test in December.

It seems that Mensing had taken the banned substance - methylhexaneamine - unwittingly, not realising that it was an ingredient in a dietary supplement he was taking.

Mensing claims he told the testers that he was using the supplement and the anti-doping authorities seem to have accepted this, deciding that the month long suspension he has already served will be the end of the matter.

Hamilton, for their part, are annoyed that Mensing had to serve a ban before being allowed to his plead his case.

That, of course, is the way these cases seem to work, the onus very much on the accused to prove their innocence.

It appears to the outsider to be a flawed system set up with the best of intentions. But I think most of us would agree that this is a case that requires hardline measures, unfortunate as the consequences can be for the innocent.

And Mensing did take a banned substance and ultimately he must take responsibility for that.

What interested was that Mensing had actually checked with Hamilton Accies staff if the supplement he was using, Xedra-Cut, was going to fall foul of the rules. Apparently he was told that it was fine.

Football, I suspect, has not quite come to terms with drugs in the way other sports have.

Mensing is entitled to feel let down by the club staff who gave him the go ahead.

How can we trust clubs to educate their players when they make mistakes like this?

It is easy to say sportsman shouldn't take anything if there is any doubt. But Mensing does seem to have attempted to allay his own fears only to be given duff information.

I'm not qualified to even estimate the size of any problem football might have in this area. My suspicion is that it is another one of the many areas that football makes a common decision to ignore in the hope that it won't cause them too much trouble: the default head in the sand policy.

But the unfortunate Mensing's case does suggest that there is more football clubs could be doing to guard against incidents, even ultimately innocent cases like this one.