One of the advantages of living so close to the MCG is finding interesting pieces of paper lying in nearby gutters. I'm not sure what to make of this, so being unbound by journalistic ethics, I thought it best to release the document into the public record and see what others make of it. Of course, I can't vouch for the source or veracity of the claims made and it's clearly just one page from what appears to be a draft media release or speech.
... an increasing problem facing not just footballers but the wider Australian community. The League, supported by the Players' Association, believes that we are in a position to take a strong leadership role on this issue.
We must recognise that this is not a discipline problem, but a medical issue. First and foremost must be the proper care and rehabilitation of players. In order to achieve this, we must guarantee the integrity of test results under doctor-patient confidentiality.
It's with this in mind that we are proud to jointly announce the new "three-strikes" obesity agreement, under which players voluntarily submit to skin-fold tests:
- First abnormal result. The player and the League's medical officer will be informed.
- Second abnormal result. The player and his club's medical officer will be informed. The player must enter counselling, group therapy and rehabilitation to deal with their underlying issues that cause them to over-eat in the first place .
- Third abnormal result. The player's club is informed and the club may choose to suspend or fine the player under the Player Agreement. The player may choose to divulge the reason for any club action, or keep it confidential.
We've sought the best advice from health academics about how to deal with chronic over-eating and body perception issues. Experts from the Institute for the Morbidly Obese, Over-Eaters Anonymous and the International Centre for the Study of Gland Disorders confirm that publicly naming and shaming patients is counter-productive. This is because it may further damage their low self-esteem and add pressure, two of the principal causes of eating disorders.
With this in mind, responsibility for future skin-fold testing will be taken from the clubs and conducted by contractors for the League according to the agreed protocol:
- There will be up to 500 tests per year, across the 650 players.
- Players may decline to submit to a test without stating a reason.
- Tests will be conducted both in and out of competition (except for two months at the end of season).
- All measures will be used to preserve the confidentiality of test results, including police investigations, Supreme Court injunctions and player boycotts.
- The testing schedule will remain as secret as practicable, given the close-knit football environment.
- Target testing may be employed. However, anyone nominating a player may be sued for defamation or punished for bringing the game into disrepute.
Clearly, obesity is not just limited to footballers. All facets of society are afflicted with this terrible curse. While we recognise that footballers are role models - especially to young impressionable children - we cannot use this an excuse to ride roughshod over basic human rights.
This new agreement strikes a fair and reasonable balance between the medical privacy of footballers and their commitment to elite-level competitive sport. We are now the only League in the world to conduct ... (Papers in gutter, found 5/9/2007)
Well, it certainly seems that there could be some announcement soon, if this is anything to go by. If any other pages turn up, I'll be sure to post them here.
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