Soward: NRL doesn’t have a drug problem

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The Tim Simona story has blown up this week but I can’t stress enough that it only blew up after someone was caught betting against their own team.

Tim’s story rocked the rugby league world on Sunday when he openly admitted to using illicit drugs during his playing career.

The thing we need to remember is that Tim’s case is an isolated one, because he decided to tell his story.

Plenty of people deal with private issues in their own way but Tim’s decided to come clean to the public, and that’s how he’s coping with it.

But to create a rugby league issue by saying players are taking illicit drugs on weekends and looking for that long turnaround to get away with it is absolute rubbish.

I can personally say I’ve never been involved with a club or known players that go out and do illicit drugs.

Yes, players are entitled to downtime and it’s up to them how they represent themselves and their brand, but we’ve got to remember that one person’s reputation is on the line and there’s a lot of influential kids reading these articles. Tim was dealing with his issues of gambling and his drug use only became public on the back of that.

Tim’s dealing with this situation in his own way, and this is how he’s getting through it.

The NRL has strict drug testing in place and, if you decide to run that risk and get caught, then that’s your career down the gurgler.

There are a number of drug testing scenarios that take place at clubs.

One of the big tests is with WADA – the World Anti Doping Agency – where six blokes show up, get you to pull down your pants and watch you urinate into a cup from start to finish.

The NRL also run their own drug tests every year as do the clubs themselves.

The club will randomly pick out 10 names and someone at the club is trusted to watch the process take place (similar to the WADA drug test).

Players could get tested 10 weeks in a row – there’s no limit to how many times you get tested – so if you’re going out on a Friday night, do illicit drugs and get caught on a Monday then you’re an idiot.

I’m happy with the drugs policy in place by the NRL, but I think we need to deal with each case as it comes.

Thankfully, we are not getting 10 players caught every year.

I don’t want to come across as hypocritical but we’ve got to be very careful that we don’t brush aside other issues of the game by suggesting the NRL has a drug problem now.

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