Saturday 17 March 2018

'Second chances shouldn't apply to sport' - Luke Fitzgerald weighs in on Gerbrandt Grobler doping debate

Luke Fitzgerald believes drug cheats should be given lifetime bans
Luke Fitzgerald believes drug cheats should be given lifetime bans Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Leinster, Ireland and Lions star Luke Fitzgerald has outlined why he feels drug cheats in rugby should be given lifetime bans.

Debate has been raging over the past week over the IRFU's stance on dopers after Gerbrandt Grobler made his debut for Munster 'A' last weekend.

Grobler served a two year ban after testing positive for an anabolic steroid in 2014. He admitted his guilt and returned to the game with Racing 92 last season before signing a one-year deal with Munster last season.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne is expected to face questions today on why the union rubber-stamped the deal having previously said that there was a 'zero tolerance to cheating in rugby'.

Speaking on The Left Wing podcast, Fitzgerald said that while society offers second chances to wrongdoers, sport should be treated differently.

"Everyone in society gets a second chance. Once you serve your time. You can murder someone and be out in 15-20 years, those people get a second chance," he said

"He served his ban, is he then not allowed play rugby again? I don't know.

"What I would say is that my own personal opinion is that it's a really dangerous place for the game to go to.

"What you say is that you can take a chance, you can cut a corner, you can serve a two-year ban and you're still going to be able to play.

"The dangerous things about these drugs that people are taking to help them be better at sport is that you get the benefits from them forever. That's what people don't realise. I think it's a dangerous place to go to."

Asked if it should be a lifetime ban, he said: "I think it has to be that severe. You have to be taking that much of a chance (when you decide to dope).

"This is a dream for most people and some would say, 'It's worth taking the risk because I only have to do two years'.

"I think you have to have a strong stance on it and you have to say, ' Look, I'm sorry lads and girls if you do this stuff this is the risk you're taking. You're never going to get to play the sport you love again'. That's what I think.

"I think it's harsh when you see how society deals with people who have done something wrong. We want to give people a second chance but does that apply to sport? I don't think it does.

"I think of all those people who would love to play sport at the top level and are inhibited by their size, by their athleticism, it cheats all those people as well.

"I know loads of people who have fallen short. He said he wasn't big enough well I'm sorry mate you have to try and eat as much as you can and do as many weights as you can and do it that way. It's not acceptable (to dope) in my eyes."

Both Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony came out in support of their teammate yesterday. Fitzgerald is adamant that he would feel differently had he been in their position.

"His teammates are out supporting. That's their job," he added.

Asked if he thought the felt differently about it away from the press, he said: "They might. Personally I would be like, 'Mate, you've taken a shortcut'. I was a skinny guy. I had loads of upper-body injuries because I wasn't a naturally big guy.

"I worked as hard as I could but if I found out that someone was in the same situation as I was and took those things I would have a huge problem with it. I really would

"Think of the guys who are competing with him for a position that have done it the right way. I would be gutted (if he took my place) to be honest with you."

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Subscribe to The Left Wing,'s Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

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