Volume 91, Issue 23

Wednesday, October 8, 1997

glass houses



What's fair?

Is the CIAU on drugs?

This question seems only natural after two very controversial and hypocritical rulings were made this past week by the governing body with regard to doping and eligibility scandals.

Last week, Stephane Roy, a football player from Bishop's was found to have violated eligibility rules by playing even though he was academically, a half-credit short. His punishment – a one-year suspension from varsity sports, ending his collegiate career and the forfeit of all of his team's victories. On Monday, it was uncovered that three players, Matthew Demers from Saint Mary's University, Shawn Dyson from the University of Waterloo and Constantin Shousha of the University of Ottawa violated doping rules. Their punishments – a four-year suspension, but no damage to their teams.

So, do the punishments truly fit the crimes?

For Bishop's, ranked 10th in the country at the time, it was a simple case of misunderstanding and human error – a completely unintentional mistake by both player and coach which led to the destruction of their season. The university was quick to report the infraction to the league when it was uncovered and cooperated fully with the commissioner.

Only a few days later, the league discovered three players had failed random drug tests from weeks previous. The players knew they were breaking the rules and yet still failed to declare their violations honourably to the league and their respective school.

Should the conscience of Stephane Roy be burdened with destroying the dreams of his teammates, while three players who knew what they were doing be let off so easily?

Through 1996, the team penalty was the same for both infractions, however, last spring league officials felt that it was unfair to penalize a team for the treason of one player's use of performance-enhancing steroids. If that is the case for drug abuse, what about eligibility oversights?

Clearly, the league is confused about its priorities. At this time, it appears eligibility is looked upon as a more serious offence then drug abuse. Is that the right stance for a educational and athletic body to take?

What the league needs to do is create a level playing field for all infractions of policy. To do they need to realize a team penalty is unfair and ineffective.

For the rest of the players on the team, the actions of one player translates into the destruction of what they have worked so hard to achieve. A team sport displays a collection of talent since no one player can win by himself. The CIAU recognized this in part when they withdrew the team penalty in their drug policy, but the question remains, why only for drug abuse?

Secondly, removing the team penalty does little to deter athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs. No thief ever plans to rob and get caught. The same applies to university athletes. If players believe drugs are the difference between the bench or the field, athletes will not bother to take into consider the ramifications of their actions.

It is time for the league to reconsider the policies that govern Canadian university athletics. Looking the other way is a mistake. Both policies have been spotlighted over the past week and it is now in the hands of the CIAU to decide whether or not they can continue to ignore the issue.

Simply put, team penalties should be removed from the rule books and cases like Stephane Roy's should never be allowed to happen again. To burden one person with the unintentional destruction of a group performance or to burden a team with the treason of one individual is wrong and unfair. Hopefully Kerry Moynihan, the new chief executive officer, will soon see the light.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997