Barba's sacking is a blight on civil liberties
SHORT PASS: A disclaimer before you read on.
This column does not condone the use of illegal substances in any context, sporting or otherwise, but my lord, Ben Barba has been hard done by.
Any league fan only has to scroll through their news feed to have been made aware of the latest scandal to grip the NRL.
For those who have not, it has been alleged that Cronulla player Ben Barba has tested positive to cocaine. He has subsequently been sacked by the Sharks and reports have filtered through that he will attend a treatment centre overseas to deal with "personal issues".
My question is, why was Barba being tested so long after the season has finished?
It is crazy to think that a young man can no longer go and enjoy probably one of the best moments of their life (winning a premiership) without the fear of being invaded after-hours and being forced to admit to a media-hungry public they have a problem and need help.
I thought that was meant to happen at a club level during the season.
If these clubs are so concerned about the welfare of their players, guys like Barba would not have the temptation to dabble in these substances as the security blanket of their mentors and bosses at their workplace would provide all the happiness needed to be a young, functioning, wealthy member of society.
Let me tell you that is rubbish, and so is all the player welfare mumbo- jumbo these guys keep harping on about.
Put in another context, what would happen if you worked for private enterprise and were required to provide a sample of yourself for drug testing?
You complied and subsequently tested positive and were sacked on the spot without any appeal process, any representation, no rights and no avenue to explain yourself, how would that make you feel?
How is sacking him going to aid his welfare?
What processes have the NRL put in place to assist in his recovery?
Is he going to be paid while he is out of the game?
The bloke has four kids and a wife.
These are questions that are not going to be answered, at least truthfully in my opinion, any time soon and this story will have the same narrative as so many before.
He will get treatment, come back, play for another club, get picked for Origin or Australia, win a Daly M or go overseas and earn a squillion for a European club a la so many before him with all being forgotten.
Would it not make more sense to deal with these issues internally, away from public scrutiny, particularly if this positive test is not affecting anything he is doing on the field?
I understand there is a plethora of issues that surround drug use, but not everybody who uses is a non-functioning, unproductive person.
Obviously if he crosses a boundary and hurts someone, or obtains some unfair advantage on the field, a completely different argument is born.
But as far as I know, none of these factors are present in this story, which sounds like a young footy player enjoying himself a little too much after a major event in his club's history.
These guys are not always at fault. Yes, the situation could have been avoided, but I am sure he is not the only one.