Football players and coaches at the University of Waterloo are not pleased with the decision to suspend the program over a steroid scandal that has attracted international attention. The suspension was prompted after testing revealed nine football players tested positive for, or admitted to using, steroids. The unprecedented testing of the entire Waterloo Warriors football team stemmed from the arrest of a player, receiver Nathan Zettler, who is charged with drug trafficking.
Assistant coach Carl Zender quit over the cancelled season. He told The Record that canceling the program for a year could doom football at the university for years to come. “You can’t lose all the fourth- and fifth-year players and incoming recruits and have 30 people left and play football,” he said. Warriors captain Tom Bruce, who is graduating this year, added that the university is unfairly punishing the innocent. “What would you do if nine engineers were caught cheating on a test? You wouldn’t kick the whole class out of school,” he said.
Players who want the suspension revoked are launching a campaign, starting with a Facebook group, and a press conference schedule for tomorrow at noon. Legal action may be considered. However, a revised season schedule excluding the Warriors is currently being drawn up.
The university is standing by its decision. “It’s just too many (positive tests),” vice-president academic and provost Feridun Hamdullahpu said. “For all new students coming to Waterloo to study and also participate in athletics, this had to be heard loud and clear. (Using banned substances) will not be tolerated.” The testing was conducted by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports. Urine tests were taken from all Waterloo players, and while those results have been revealed, the agency is awaiting results from 20 blood samples that are being tested for human growth hormone.
Dick Pound, former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has applauded Waterloo’s decision to cancel the season. “It’s clearly a very serious situation. To catch nine in one swatch of tests is pretty alarming. The self-imposed sanction is probably a good message (to send),” he said.