It is not just the Pakistan cricket team facing problems with performance enhancing drugs. The unwanted spectre of drug abuse has hit rugby league not for the first time this season.

The worrying aspect is that the two players concerned are in rugby league’s “feeder” competitions, the breeding ground for the first grade players of the future.

Newtown Jim Beam Cup player Matthew Eather and Penrith-St Mary’s Premier League player Greg Brain have been given two-year suspensions after testing positive during the season to performance enhancing drugs.

Eather admitted using a human growth hormone.

Penrith senior grade player Craig Trindall was handed a 12-week suspended sentence and ordered to undertake 40 hours’ community service after testing positive to cannabis. Trindall played a handful of first grade games this season when the regular half Craig Gower was injured.

The penalties for the performance enhancing drugs are consistent with the guidelines set out by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (which conducted the tests).

Rugby league continues to take a much more lenient approach to drugs such as cannabis – as opposed to performance enhancing substances – however there will be concerns that Trindall’s penalty is at the absolute bottom of the scale.

The lenient approach to illegal drugs other than performance enhancing substances was surely confirmed when the Cowboys’ Mitchell Sargent was allowed to sign a three-year contract with the Newcastle Knights barely three weeks after the Cowboys somewhat courageously tore up his contract.

While there can be no complaint with the penalties being handed out for performance enhancing substances by rugby league administrators, the very lenient attitude to other drugs will simply have to be revisited for the good of the game.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey