Last week it was reported that ex-Wallaby Dan Vickerman had died – some reports didn’t state a cause but appended ‘helpline’ links, while others were open about it being suicide.
There was discussion about the difficulty many rugby and other sports stars had in transitioning to more normal and more anonymous lives.
There was also news that Dan Carter had been arrested for drunk driving.
There are still strong and contentious links between alcohol and sport. But alcohol isn’t the only problem drug.
Blues coach Tana Umaga is remaining tight-lipped on the situation surrounding his absent lock Patrick Tuipulotu after authorities confirmed being alerted to a positive drugs test from the player on the All Blacks’ northern tour last November.
After Fairfax Media revelations that the 24-year-old Blues and All Blacks lock’s career was in limbo following a failed drugs test, both New Zealand Rugby and NZ’s Players’ Association on Sunday confirmed the key facts in the situation.
In a joint statement, NZR and the NZRPA said Tuipulotu was shocked by the result and “working hard to identify the source of the specified substance”.
But performance enhancing drugs hover over sports these days. There can be a fine line between banned drugs and legal ‘enhancers’.
This week I was contacted by David Briggs, a former Chief and captain of Tonga. He wants to go into things “too much”. I think we should stand up and applaud him. The telling of Briggs’s story shows the late Lauaki respect. It shows that Briggs wants to make a difference for the kids of the future. It shows a great deal of courage.
Briggs, who is now 46 years of age, said, “I started taking creatine in 1998. We were all on creatine. I got huge on it. I went from 114kg to 125kg in a matter of weeks. We didn’t know what we were really taking. We were just told it worked.
“But it didn’t feel right. Our bodies got big, but lots of people’s stomachs were playing up. I got cramps and was getting sick. I cannot be sure, but creatine’s killing all the boys. Jonah reckoned it was part of the reason he was sick.
“I was Lauaki. I got in trouble with the law and alcohol. I don’t drink anymore. I had to give alcohol away or go to jail. I woke up in a cell and went before a judge. Either I changed or I would lose everything.
“I retired from the Chiefs in 2004, but I am still getting headaches. I had heaps of concussions. I suffered depression big-time from those head knocks. I don’t think I will ever be right. I accept I will have depression for the rest of my life and a lot of memory loss. I go to the fridge and think, ‘Shit, what did I need?’ It’s just cos I played rugby without a mouthguard.
“We didn’t think about the future. I’m here now and I’m going, ‘Damn’. The young ones need to be careful. I believe creatine is killing all the boys. I can’t be 100 per cent certain. But all the Pacific Islanders are having problems now.
And now news involving an ex All Black and an ex Wallaby:
Former All Black Ali Williams has been sidelined by his club in Paris, after being arrested on suspicion of trying to buy cocaine.
As our Paris correspondent Catherine Field reports, Williams was picked up outside a nightclub along with former Wallabies star James O’Connor.
“He was taken in by police at around 3 o’clock Saturday morning Paris time, the two men were spotted by plain clothed drug enforcement officers, trying to buy cocaine.
Apparently they were trying to pay around 200 euros in cash for the cocaine.”
As Field reports, his club Racing has already put him on suspension.
“They say that they want to respect the presumption of innocence- he’s only been charged, he hasn’t been been found guilty of this crime yet, however, they go on in the statement to say this would be a major violation of the clubs ethics.”
Presumption of innocence unless proven guilty – but I think France has a difference system of justice.
France has been a very lucrative place to go for retired international rugby players. It also seems to be a risky place to go, where heaps of money and leisure time seems to easily lead to trouble.