In an extensive doping scandal within Canadian university football, nine players of the University of Waterloo Warriors have either tested positive or are being investigated for the use of banned performance enhancing substances.
The widespread use of steroids prevalent in the Warriors dressing room has now prompted the University of Waterloo to unexpectedly suspend their football program for the 2010 Canadian Interuniversity Sport season — an unprecedented move.
On June 14 the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport revealed that nine players were in question for use of prohibited steroids. Of the 62 Waterloo urine samples four admissions of use, three positive tests and one refused test from Warriors’ players were discovered. Additional police investigation will determine if a ninth player is guilty of using performance enhancing substances.
The University of Waterloo prompted the investigation following player Nathan Zettler’s arrest that revealed he was in possession of several thousand pills and steroid vials. The steroid allegations are one of many against Zettler. The 23-year-old also faces five counts of breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, use of a stolen credit card and breaching a probation order.
The consequence imposed by the CIS in cases where athletes are caught using steroids entails a four-year suspension from university athletics. The CIS began testing its student athletes for banned substances in 1990 and since have turned up 56 infractions, of which a whopping 54 belong to male athletes.
The decision by the academic provost to suspend the Warriors football program has caused problems for players innocent of any substance abuse infractions.
It was first speculated that any athletes who wanted to transfer to a different university in light of the disastrous circumstances would be unable to. However, on June 16 the CIS sent out a press release stating that the CIS’s eligibility committee has confirmed the application of the policy “Discontinuance of a Sport” to all University of Waterloo football players.
The policy reads: “Notwithstanding an athlete who is registered at a post-secondary degree granting institution and who successfully completes at least one academic year at that institution, shall be allowed to transfer to a member institution and participate immediately when the original institution cancels the sport.”
Unfortunately, the strides taken by the CIS to help make the best of the emotionally draining situation can only go so far and the nationally governing body of Canadian university athletics may need to stand up for Waterloo’s guiltless players if any positive steps are to be taken.
The new decision to enforce the policy still has the blameless Warriors athletes frantic at what next season will bring.
Many Warriors are indecisive as to whether they will choose to transfer from Waterloo or not and the thought of transferring is provoking resentment in many players coping with the prospect of having to prematurely separate from close teammates.
Many Warriors players, Waterloo’s athletic department and former coaches are now pointing fingers at Waterloo’s academic provost, indicating the provost doesn’t have the slightest clue about sports or what university athletics entail, saying such a radical decision affects the entire student body. Clearly, many fans are disappointed at the turn of events: the Facebook group “Bring Back Waterloo Warrior Football” had over 9,000 members at the time of print.
Moreover, many football analysts suggest that in the U.S. at an NCAA school, the problem would be dealt with and football would proceed, no questions asked. But since CIS football doesn’t generate the lucrative profits NCAA is capable of, it appears as if Waterloo will be without football for a season.
Head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Brian Towriss, isn’t too worried that the same scenario will repeat at the U of S and says approximately 10 of his players are tested randomly on an annual basis. Huskies football has never been slammed with a doping scandal, but Towriss believes the Waterloo situation will help bring more awareness to how serious of an issue steroids are to the dressing room.
“I don’t think it will change our policy. Our kids go through drug education at the start of every year. If anything it’s going to bring awareness to practices,” said Towriss.
Towriss is sympathetic to Waterloo’s situation and resolutely agrees the reckless decisions of a few shouldn’t impact the majority of the team in terms of the Warriors’ one year suspension.
At the moment, the CCES and CIS are investigating if Waterloo is an isolated incident and has also placed the University of Guelph, University of Western Ontario, Wilfred Laurier University and McMaster University under investigation as well.
More details of the Waterloo steroid scandal unbeknownst to the general public are sure to leak out in coming weeks as the circumstances surrounding the future of Warriors football becomes clarified.