Friday, April 26, 2013

Rogues and cheats

Amidst the fabulous semi-finals of Champions League football and Sprinter Sacre spectable in racing at Punchestown, two bombshells hit the headlines in these sports for the past week; yet-another scandal involving Luis Suarez, and the Al Zarooni drug shame.

The long list of mis-demeanors of Liverpool's Suarez is well-documented; biting at an opponent during his Ajax days, racial abuse towards Man Utd's Evra, refusal to shake hands with the latter in a later game, numerous diving incidents, and the deliberate hand-ball at the goal line against Ghana during a World Cup game. I am less inclined to fault him for that latter obstruction as it was really a reflex to stop being scored against. But his latest chewing at the expense of Chelsea's Ivanovic is less forgivable. It is a case of repeatable barbaric offence which, in my mind, deserves an unconditional heavy punishment. Ten games and Liverpool are sulking? Common, I think he deserves half the season on the sidelines. Let him consider his future in English football; in fact, I think the EPL would be better without his antics. His football skills are evident, but mentally there is definitely something amiss. How much more human meat he needs to chew before Liverpool decide that enough is enough?

The Al Zarooni saga is still unfolding, so not all the elements are pieced together yet before all questions can be clearly answered. It is quite hard to accept his reasoning that he did not know the rules about steroid use in UK racing. I mean, of the past 7 years, there have been 3 drug violations that have been detected; 2 of them were from Al Zarooni himself, for usage of forbidden pain-killers on his horses. It seems unfathomable that had that been naivety of his part back then, that he wouldn't have consulted the drug policies regarding harder drugs like anabolic steroids. His excuse of not knowing the rules does not hold much water. Unlike Suarez, his career is over. It looks to be the case of the young ambitious trainer who had his chance, took it and then blew it. What remains are pertinent questions that hopefully will be answered in the next days, but possibly many others won't be answered; For example, what to make of his successes at the highest level during the past 3 years? Was Monterosso juiced in winning the Dubai World Cup in 2012? He did surprise many by his decisive win on that day. Was Rewilding a worthy winner at Royal Ascot when gunning down heavy favourite So You Think? Many thought, including I, that the Ballydoyle colt was unbeatable that day, which prompted shell-shocked trainer O'Brien to advance that he hadn't prepared the colt adequately. How about Encke foiling Camelot's triple crown bid in the St Leger last year? Pounds, as well as dreams, were shed by many on that Classic, and they could very well have been for the wrong reasons if the Godolphin representative benefited from an illegal boost on the occasion.

Unlike some, I think that Godolphin will survive this. They are too huge to go under, just like the saying in the financial world, where there are banks that are too big to fail. There's every chance that Suarez will continue his controversial path and find something up his sleeve when he comes back. It just wouldn't shock anyone anymore. On further thoughts, maybe it could still shock, you never know with Suarez.

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