Earlier this week we asked whether cocaine might be used to improve performance on the footy field. “Bond traders and hedge fund managers in New York and perhaps even Sydney, use cocaine partly because it helps them to think faster for longer. Perhaps it’s helped train athletes to run faster for longer also? Henry does not know, can anybody help?”

Thanks to The Oz, we have at least a suggestive answer:

Andrew McLachlan, a professor of pharmacy at the University in Sydney who specialises in drug testing, said cocaine had the potential to deliver improved oxygen supply, enhanced mental awareness and a feeling of invincibility.

The potential effects of amphetamines are similar, with ice having the additional benefit of improving anaerobic performance. Amphetamines last longer, providing benefits – and associated risks – for up to three hours.

When you are tired and exhausted, these medicines give you the potential to refocus, remain stimulated and keep fighting on in a match,” McLachlan said.

Chip le Grand or his assistant has compiled statistics on Ben Cousins’s performance last season before and after the club had “an inkling” in July that the problem was drugs.

From July 29 last year to the end of the home-and-away season, Champion Data statisticians recorded a dramatic spike in Cousins’ on-field performance.

From having averaged 23 possessions per game, Cousins began winning more of the ball than any player in the competition. From compiling just three Brownlow votes up to round 16, Cousins polled 10 votes in the final six rounds.

Henry seems to recall that elite athletes who failed a drug test have had Olympic gold medals taken from them. This case is different, the players concerned having supposedly not failed a test (but then, how would we know under the AFL’s “three strikes” policy?)

But in this case we have the testimony of the club itself. West Coast won the 2006 AFL grand final by one point. In the light of recent revelations, can they be rightly regarded as a fair winner?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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