Good to see NRL CEO Todd Greenberg take a somewhat tough stance on the Ben Barba drug issue this week.
With news breaking this week of Barba signing with French rugby giant Toulon to continue his playing career as he looks to serve his 12 match suspension, the NRL CEO has moved quickly to hose down any thoughts that Barba can sidestep his 12 match ban by working in another code saying that the ban would not start until he returns from any overseas playing commitments.
Cue the applause for Greenberg and the NRL on this one. Barba looking to head overseas to play in another code while he sits out 12 games for failing a drug test makes a mockery of the whole situation. That would be like me being able to work in a different childcare centre while waiting for my court matters to be heard for child sex abuse.
The integrity and image of any sport is contingent on the ability of the governing code and its member bodies (teams) being able to enforce the very integrity policies they have in place to protect them. By allowing Barba the ability to continue to ply his trade elsewhere, for good coin too I might add, while being suspended in the NRL is a bridge too far.
If you read through Barba’s comments and response to the NRLs decision you get a sense of an individual who feels more entitled than he should given the situation he finds himself in, and his previous track record. After all, he did in fact test positive to an illicit drug, in clear breach of the NRL’s policies and despite a clear warning that he and other players would be tested.
As a serial offender, Barba should feel grateful he even has a shot at playing the game ‘he loves’ again and getting paid handsomely for it. But despite the fact he may get to continue earning several hundred’s of thousands of dollars a year following his ban, you get a sense that Barba feels he is being hard done by.
Apparently voicing his frustration at the time the NRL has taken to register his contract he said this:
“Mate, I’ve got to look after my kids and my family. They’re my first option”
I wonder if they were top of his mind when he decided to jeopardise his career (again) and his livelihood?
The backbone of protecting any organisation, sport or industry centres around three main things:
- having clear policies and guidelines around acceptable conduct, supported by the right tone from the top;
- ensuring that all involved in the organisation, sport or industry are educated and well informed of those policies and know the consequences of not adhering to them;
- enforcing them.
Enforcing them. Otherwise what’s the point? Enforcing those policies and ensuring there are real life consequences has a deterrent effect and is where you stop other people engaging in the same conduct.
At some point you need to be held accountable for your actions in order to protect the greater good – the rest of the sport, code, club and players.
Well done Mr Greenberg, hopefully this sends a reminder to others across the NRL that there are consequences to their actions and it’s not a foregone conclusion that you will be able to sidestep the issue, terminate your contract for a short period of time only to pop up sometime later and resume your career.