Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ben Cousins

The AFL’s Ben Cousins was arrested yesterday in Perth and charged with allegedly possessing unspecified illegal drugs. His arrest seems to have been pre-planned by police and news camera people were on hand to photograph Cousins, naked from the waist up, waiting in his car as it was searched and then as he was taken away. Cousins seems to have ongoing problems with methamphetamine. It is a tragedy for this good-looking, athletic man with an engaging personality to stumble in this way.

I can’t help thinking that earlier this month his buddy Chris Mainwaring died after what seems to be a bout of drug taking. Cousins was with him just before he died and was a pallbearer at his funeral.

The wolves are baying for Cousins blood. Caroline Wilson in the Melbourne edition of Pravda argues that Cousins’ career should now be permanently terminated – he should be sacked from the West Coast Eagles. Send him off to the Gulag, Caroline.

I am strongly anti-drugs but the treatment of Cousins seems completely over the top. The guy is recovering from a chemical dependency and relapses are almost inevitable due to ongoing cravings even after withdrawal has ended. There were additional pressures on Cousins particularly with the recent tragic death of a close friend.

Give this guy a break. Punish his illegal drug use and his refusal to take a drug test in the normal way. But leave it at that. How will a media-generated appeal for blood and a program of seeking to destroy Ben Cousins’ career help anyone?


Update: Cousins was in possession of a valium-type drug. How ridiculous! This is a widely-used, though, addictive tranquiliser. That Cousins was using it is consistent with my view that he was under pressure from the death of his recent friend and from his cessation of use of amphetamines. He was sacked from his club yesterday and denounced everywhere in the media. What a tragedy.

Update: Police admit they were mistaken in arresting Cousins but the Eagles say his sacking will stand. He was never convicted in a court of any offense. I hope Ben sues the pants off these people. Totally outrageous, immoral and unfair.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would have thought that the loss of Chris Mainwaring would have been the turning point for Cousins. As far as I'm concerned he should have left Perth for USA, (drug rehab clinic), the minute the Eagles were out of the Grand Final. The Eagles have no choice other than to sack Ben Cousins and send the message "Drugs will not be tolerated".

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree with your sentiment on your comments Harry, it just might be that the football club decide the only resolution of this situation is to terminate Ben's contract with the football club.

Ben has torn the club apart in the last 12 months.

It would appear impossible for Ben to recover from his problems whilst continuing to maintain a professional football career.

For the good of Ben and the club they might just have to part ways.

I just hope he can get the help he needs and get himself together before he ends up like his good mate and mentor.

Cheers, Nick Innes

conrad said...

Speaking of drugs, I couldn't help but notice that NDARC thinks that heroin is beggining to make a come back again. Not that I'd trust them, but that of course shows how poorly correlated usage is with policing, and now it looks like the cycle is going up again.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole drugs in sport debate has got out of hand. There seem to be two broad issues.

The first is the use of performance enhancing drugs, which I understand are mostly not illegal. You can buy many of these from a store selling sports supplements or get your doctor to prescribe them. Some of these drugs are beneficial in enabling recovery from injury. Perhaps it would be easier to just let all sportspeople take them so we no longer have to worry about the issue of “performance enhancing drugs”. Just make sure that they are fully informed about the risks and long term side effects and let them decide. At present the uncertainty around whether these drugs are being used is casting a pall over most professional sports.

The second is the use of illicit/recreational drugs. This issue has only arisen because of the first issue. Because sportspeople are being regularly tested for performance enhancing drugs, the use of recreational drugs is being picked up. But we would consider it objectionable if employers made employment conditional on taking drug tests, with the threat of dismissal if the employee tested positive. (Of course, if drug use affected the employees ability to work effectively then the employer should still have the right to dismiss them.)

Why are we expecting sportspeople to adhere to a higher standard than the rest of the population? Why are we penalising them more heavily for recreational drug use than the rest of the population?

Anonymous said...

A problem is that recreational drugs like methamphetamines could well enhance performance on the field - while I can't speak from experience - it is supposed to boost energy and endurance - which would certainly benefit a midfielder. For drugs like alcohol or marijuana, if players can perform on the field (and keep out of trouble off the field) I agree it is not a policy issue.

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Ben Cousins and AFL drug policy said...

I think both the AFL and the West Coast Eagles walked a careful legal line with Ben Cousins' sacking (by WCE) and suspension (by the AFL). The WCE sacked him for failure to attend training on several occasions.
The AFL suspended Ben for behaviour or conduct which brought the game into disrepute.

Sure, these are official explanations that are probably underpinned by unofficial information.

It is odd that people like Kevin Sheedy have worked so hard to foster a spirit of inclusion, community and support in the AFL and the leading administrators seemed to have acted in direct contradiction of that spirit with Ben Cousins.

Anyway, congratulations to Richmond for picking up Ben and good luck to them both for 2009.

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