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Jones: ‘Recreational drugs a reality’

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Former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones has admitted that the use of recreational drugs is a reality in professional sport, but denied that it is an issue that is exclusive to Australian sport.

Speaking at the end of his week-long stay with the Springbok team, at their World Cup training base in Cape Town, Jones admitted that he had “suspicions” that some players may have been using recreational drugs during his tenure as Australian coach.

Jones declined to mention any names, but former Rugby League converts Wendell Sailor and Andrew Walker have both been suspended after producing positive tests for cocaine in recent years. Sailor is still serving his two-year ban, while Walker returned to Rugby Union this year after having served his ban.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss John O’Neill makes some startling revelations about the use of recreational drugs in his newly-released autobiography – ‘It’s Only A Game – A Life In Sport‘.

In his book O’Neill, who has just started a second stint as ARU chief executive, discusses the temptations faced by young and “cashed-up” professional players and off-field decisions that can lead to disaster.

“Alcohol is probably still number one on the hit parade of abuse in sport,” O’Neil wrote in the book.

“I am not aware if gambling has become a major problem in Rugby Union, but from my last couple of years in the game I do know recreational drugs were starting to become an issue.”

O’Neil, whose first stint as ARU CEO stretched from 1995 to 2004, mentioned concerns raised by Jones at the time.

And Jones confirmed that he indeed had some concerns.

However, he dismissed suggestions that there are large numbers of players using recreational drugs and suggested it is just a “small portion” of the elite group in the sport.

“We have society problems with recreational drugs, it is not a sport problem,” Jones told rugby365.com.

“Whatever percentage there is in society that takes recreational drugs, there’s a much smaller percentage in professional sport that takes it, but to say it is not there is just being stupid, because it is there.

“We’ve seen it in AFL [Aussie Rules football], we’ve seen it in Rugby League and it is definitely there in Rugby Union.

“But it is only a very small proportion of what is a very good group of players,” Jones told this website.

Asked if it was a problem during his tenure as Wallaby coach, he said it is not unique to Australian sport or society.

“I didn’t encounter it [the use of recreational drugs by players] directly, but I had suspicions,” Jones said.

“As a coach you would always look to see what might be affecting your players’ performance and undoubtedly in Australia that’s an issue as it is in a number of other countries.

“Australia is not by itself there. Recreational drugs is a problem in every society.”

O’Neill, in his book ‘It’s Only A Game – A Life In Sport‘, also writes about suspicions about Australian players and performance enhancing drugs in the late 1990s.

“There was no evidence to support these theories,” he wrote. “But the bulked-up appearance of our players was raising eyebrows.”

O’Neill writes that one substance had the Australian team’s medical staff stumped. When analysed, the results, he says, were jaw-dropping.

“This player had been taking a mixture that was primarily used in pottery factories, during the manufacturing process, to help harden ceramic pots. Clearly, if taken by humans . . . it would rot your gut. No surprise then that the player was warned off taking his pottery pills.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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