x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Murray case: food for thought

The loss of Duncan Murray to the UAE rugby's scene because of a prohibited substance is a good chance to start educating players as to what they should and should not be consuming.

Duncan Murray is facing being out of the sport for two years.
Duncan Murray is facing being out of the sport for two years.

The domestic rugby season starts Friday. It will be far poorer for the absence of Duncan Murray, the UAE centre, who acknowledged this week he faces two years out of the game after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

As such, the local game has been deprived of one of its most watchable players, a play-making centre who encapsulates the free spirit of his club, the Dubai Hurricanes.

An ill wind blows nobody any good, but something positive should come of his case. Now is the time to educate local players on the dos and don'ts of nutrition.

After all, the amateur players need all the help they can get.

Murray said his positive test came as a result of consuming an energy drink, which contained the listed stimulant methylhexaneamine, before an Asian Five Nations match earlier this year.

The drink is readily available. It is served over the counter, and a small tub of it sells for around Dh165 at a variety of health, lifestyle and nutrition shops.

Although he did not want to use ignorance as an excuse, the player said he had not known of the stimulant before.

Who would? How many local players are aware of what is and what is not on the list of prohibited substances?

One domestic rugby player, who also coaches both men and youth team players, said yesterday that he had never experienced any education on substance misuse in seven years of playing here.

Even the professionals are not fireproof. Japan's players want for little - they paid to take five tonnes of excess baggage with them to the World Cup in New Zealand to give their players the best chance of success. With such resources, it is safe to assume they have nutritionists advising their players, yet even they returned a positive test in the Five Nations, the same competition where Murray failed a random test.

According to reports, one players tested positive for a substance occurring in a hair growth product he was using to grow a moustache.

Three players from Sri Lanka also returned positive tests in the Five Nations. As with the Japanese player, their cases went public months ago. Why the same did not happen here is unclear, particularly as Murray set aside his personal disappointment to appreciate how his plight could serve to promote greater awareness among fellow players.