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The street lights were blazing, well those that still had bulbs in them were. The fact that some still had any capability of producing an iridescent glow was a miracle if you were to believe the press. Oh those TV commercials, paid for with tax payer money, the newspaper articles?they were working wonders. A dog barked incessantly, causing others to join and soon the cacophony ensured lights from the houses started to go on. They weren?t worried. Telephones were luxuries, no phone tag happening here.
They moved quickly, not because they were worried they would be spotted but because the frost on the ground and the crisp early morning air was bone chilling. The banging on the door rang out, the sleepy occupant answering it bewildered as he was shoved into a room as police and their dogs charged through the house. As quickly as it started, it was over and three small frightened children, their mother, father, an adolescent male and a frail old lady were herded towards the waiting vehicle still wearing their pyjama?s and night gowns.
Come out, come out, where ever you are?
The dawn raids of ?76? were deemed a success by the right wing political party of its day, ensuring that ?overstayers?, those blights on society, the would-be law breakers, were shipped back to the countries they came from. Bloody trouble makers. They were necessary. They needed to be done in the early hours of the morning to ensure the people they were after would most likely be home. Human rights, civil rights, rights? Was there such a consideration? Oh, how far we?ve come in the past 30 years.
?Fury over dawn drugs raid,? the headline screamed. No one would?ve blinked an eye, except it was in the rugby league section and it didn?t involve a search of the occupant?s home for drugs but rather, to procure a urine sample to test for drugs. Now anyone of Polynesian decent, with family in New Zealand will have grown up hearing a story about the 70?s. Friends disappearing one day, to find out later they were back at their Island of origin, family members pulled out of bed and put on the next plane home. Memories are long and to this day, a knock at the door at 5am can cause the heart to beat a little faster. Mrs. Pritchard could?ve been forgiven for briefly thinking she was stuck in time warp when she answered the door that fateful dawn.
Rugby league openly supports the ASADA methods, but is it necessary to test players at 5am, in their homes? Homes that their children, partners and sometimes, their parents, sleep in. Homes that are often the one place they can call their sanctuary, relax and let their guard down in a world that has them under constant scrutiny, expects them to be role models and behave in ways far outweighing the expectations of the likes of you and me. Protection of the individual rights of personal freedom, privacy, dignity and property is a central plank of the law and even police can only enter private dwellings without a warrant under ?exceptional circumstances? and warrants are only granted if they have proved there is reasonable grounds that evidence of the commission of an offence is there or likely to take place within 72 hours.
The upside is that rugby league?s stance on drug use is significantly tougher than other sports.
Is ASADA breaking the law and breeching civil rights with their dawn drug tests? Should there not be policies in place that would protect the rights of the individual and see a mandate that there would have to be set criteria for suspicion to warrant the need for a dawn test in the players home, instead of blanket suspicion? And it seems there is blanket suspicion, ?If there are windows of opportunity where athletes know they can be tested, then there are equally windows of opportunities where athletes may be able to use drugs with impunity,? ASADA CEO Richard Ings said. If ASADA can use this attitude to justify an 'any place, any time' testing regime that gives them more powers and less accountability than the police for entering your home, what?s next?
Yes, players should be tested for performance enhancing drugs, and performance enhancing drugs only, but let?s give them the same consideration that?s afforded you and I when at home. Hell, even New Zealand only does their dawn raids after 7am now.