April 23, 2021

We would be naive to believe there isn’t someone running around this weekend on performance-enhancing drugs

4 min read

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

Bronson Xerri should be lining up for the Cronulla Sharks against the Canberra Raiders this Sunday. The 20-year-old should be in the mix for State of Origin selection later in the year too. Xerri should be a lot of things.

But he’s not.

Xerri says there is more to the story but he isn’t ready to tell his side.

The Shark is still waiting for a decision from the NRL on whether he’ll cop a four-year ban.

There is no good reason for using performance-enhancing drugs when your teammates – the guys you spend most of your time with – aren’t taking shortcuts.

The blokes you sweat through the Australian summer with. Bleed with. All those hours away from your family and friends. Your teammates go through what you do. You belong to a very small, lucky group of people.

“This is all on myself and it’s a mistake I did… not my family,” Xerri told Nine News on Wednesday.

“That was the hardest part, to tell my family and to let them go through what I was going through. It is what it is. My main goal is to repay them and make them proud again.

“I’d rather not speak about (specifics). Obviously it was a very tough situation, my mental health was not good at the time.

“I’ll tell my story, it’s not what everyone thinks it is.

“I made a mistake and now I have to pay the consequences.”

You can kind of make sense if a veteran takes steroids.

Desperate to hang on to their youth, the fame, hanging out for one last big contract.

On the day of Parramatta’s finals clash against South Sydney last season, 32-year-old centre Michael Jennings was stood down by the NRL.

“The National Rugby League (NRL) has today provisionally suspended Parramatta Eels player Michael Jennings under the NRL’s anti-doping policy,” the NRL statement read.

“The Provisional Suspension Notice asserts that Mr Jennings returned a positive A-sample for LGD-4033 (Ligandrol) and its metabolite Di-hydroxy-LGD-4033, and also Ibutamoren and its metabolites Desbenzyl Ibutamoren and OH Ibutamoren.

“Each of those substances are prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the NRL’s anti-doping policy.”

Jennings hadn’t played for New South Wales since 2016.

Hadn’t represented the Kangaroos since 2015.

In July last season, the NRL ran a story on their website with the headline: ‘How ‘attitude adjustment’ rejuvenated Jennings after park footy stint’.

Asked about being voted by fellow NRL players as the third-best centre in the competition after some forgettable seasons (which included being dropped to Wentworthville not long before) – Jennings said:

“It’s actually humbling to be recognised by my peers,” the speedster told press.

“Look, I think it’s just I’m enjoying my footy now and I enjoy doing it here at Parra.”

Jennings is still fighting to clear his name over the alleged scandal.

“I am totally against any form of cheating in sport and am completely shocked to find myself in this position,” Jennings said in a statement at the time.

“I will do everything I can to clear my name. I have dedicated the last 14 years of my life to playing in the NRL. I would never do anything to jeopardise my standards, my reputation, or the legacy I leave, especially for my son.”

In February, James Segeyaro was banned for 20 months.

It was found the hooker tested positive to Ligandrol in September 2019.

The NRL were comfortable in Segeyaro’s excuse that he had accidently ingested it while using a household blender which contained “residues of the substance”.

Maybe Xerri, Jennings and Segeyaro truly are innocent.

There’s so many different factors at play for a professional athlete.

The things they are and aren’t allowed to put in their body.

While we must give all players the benefit of the doubt, we would be naive to believe there isn’t someone running around this weekend on performance-enhancing drugs.

It’s been happening in all sports for many years.

Which makes it harder and harder to believe each player after they test positive.

@woodward_curtis

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