Last night, STV news ran one of the most extraordinary stories in the recent history of our game.
Today, just one national newspaper – The Scottish Daily Mail – thought it was worth following up or mentioning further. For the rest, this is a gross abrogation of their responsibilities on a par with the way they handled Ally McCoist’s famous declaration on betting in the game.
The story in question was on doping in Scottish football, and specifically on how few tests are performed every single year. The number is shocking; only eight drugs tests have been performed in the last nine months, opening the door wide to all sorts of malfeasance and cheating, and out of competition testing – the surest way to catch cheats – isn’t being done at all.
The SFA has defended current procedures, bizarrely saying they prove “the game is clean.”
Which is a little bit like the heads of an anti-mafia task force patting themselves on the back and saying the mafia has been eradicated because they’ve not brought forth a single court case to prosecute one of the gangsters.
Proof of absence isn’t the same thing as absence of proof.
Scottish football is clean? Then someone will have to produce the evidence, or a lot of us will remain wholly unconvinced.
The echoes of McCoist’s comments over gambling are obvious. That was one of the best examples of the media and the governing bodies deciding what was, and wasn’t, an issue worth pursuing. This is on a similar level, and it’s no wonder that it’s not the subject of shrieking editorials today.
For too long our press has been of the view that corruption is best undiscovered because otherwise it would “ruin the game.”
Have they forgotten that the sport is ruined when stuff like this is allowed to fester and rot?
In the aftermath of the Rangers saga, and with the furies still buzzing around Ibrox, the sport needs transparency and openness more than it ever has.
Scottish football fans don’t want to be patronised and given glib assurances that everything is alright; they want to know they aren’t watching a rigged game.
They want a governing body that actually governs, and with the good of the whole game foremost in mind.
What we have here is a lazy, incompetent and criminally negligent one which you get the impression would allow any corruption, overlook any activity, no matter how destructive, in exchange for an easy life.
The STV report yesterday said this comes down to money; of course it does.
These are the people who would have sold off sporting integrity itself to satisfy TV contracts.
They long ago hung a great big For Sale sign outside Hampden, and they think that equals progress.
Doping is clearly an issue in Scottish football; how big an issue, no-one wants to find out. Gambling was, and is, an issue too. No-one wants to look into that either.
How do we know match-fixing isn’t rife?
That corruption isn’t spread throughout the game?
We don’t, of course. Because the two agencies who’s role is to find out – the media (bar STV in this case and the BBC in the case of EBT’s and doping in other sports) and the authorities at Hampden – simply don’t want to look for it.
That might be the biggest crime against our sport of them all.