Ferdinand, Mutu and a high horse

ON the 23rd of September 2003 Rio Ferdinand’s name was picked out of a hat at Manchester United’s training ground to go forward for a drug test. He had a shower and went off shopping without taking the test.

When the club contacted him, it was too late to return to the ground as the testers had gone. Next day, he took the test and was found to be drugs free.

As any schoolboy knows “I forgot” won’t get you out of not doing your homework – even though occasionally it’s true. And so Rio Ferdinand was banned, which cost him his England place in Euro 2004.

The tightarse majority that now inhabits the western world were delighted that he was banned. I was absolutely appalled.

Why? Because the current drugs-in-sport regime turns the whole civilised system of justice on its head. Rio Ferdinand was banned despite the fact that no evidence was produced that he had used drugs. In fact, the English Football Association accepted that he had not taken drugs.

Nevertheless, in our modern culture the individual not only has to be innocent but has to prove themselves innocent. The FA didn’t have to prove that Rio had deliberately missed the test, indeed they acknowledged that he had no reason to miss the test. But the jackboot culture had to have its way anyhow.

Not only do the sports authorities not have to prove any advantage but now, it seems, they are the arbiters of good and evil.

Adrian Mutu of Chelsea was found to have taken cocaine. I’ve heard that taking cocaine makes you good in bed but I haven’t heard that it makes you good on the football field. In fact, Mutu’s form proves that it doesn’t.

This is not a problem for the English FA. Taking drugs is a BAD THING. They think that players who take drugs should be banned anyway, even if the drugs in question make you play badly. Mutu got a seven month ban.

Basically, the FA have taken it upon themselves to enforce laws and mores that have nothing to do with kicking a ball. Will they be banning footballers for breaking red lights next?

And then we come to our own shaggy horse story. Cian O’Connor’s gold medal horse Waterford Crystal had banned substances on board when he won in Athens. Nobody disputes this.

I don’t know anything about horses but I’m capable of understanding logic. O’Connor’s position is that the drugs administered were sedatives aimed at preventing the horse from injuring himself. His contention is that the traces were so minute that the horse’s performance could not be affected.

That’s interesting. What do the horsey authorities (the FEI) say about that?

They say nothing because they have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. In other words, they don’t have to prove anything about the drugs. The drugs could make the animal’s legs fall off and it wouldn’t make any difference to them.

I don’t like this at all. We are investing God-like powers in sports authorities with very little accountability. It will end badly.