West Coast Eagle's great Ben Cousins has fulfilled all our expectations with a spectacular flame-out that has left the football world reeling. He was arrested by detectives in Perth, charged with drug offences and then promptly sacked by his club. While he has thrown away his $800K/year career, he can now indulge freely in his great love - drug-taking.
It hardly came as a surprise. The weeks after the finals are traditionally a time for footballers to get a little crazy. Maybe take some extra risks. For Cousins, the temptation was just too great.
Cousins' A Goner.
Source: Daily Telegraph.
Here's how Ben Cousins' horror day, October 16th, 2007, played out:
In a statement, police said they stopped Cousins' vehicle on Newcastle St, Perth around 11.30am after he came to their attention "due to the manner of his driving".
They allegedly found a quantity of prohibited drugs after searching the four-wheel drive vehicle.
The 29-year-old West Coast Eagles' midfielder was taken for questioning to the Traffic Enforcement Group headquarters in East Perth.
Police will allege Cousins failed to provide a sample of his blood for analysis.
Nine Network television footage showed Cousins, shirtless, being led by a detective from his vehicle to a police car, where he sat in the back seat between two officers. (The Daily Telegraph, 16/10/2007)
If you want the gory details, here's the video footage of Cousins' Walk of Shame:
Cousins' car was searched and some prescription drugs (Valium) was found. Cousins does not have a prescription for the drug, commonly used to soften the come down from crystal meth and ecstasy. Cousins refused to take a driving competency test or provide a saliva sample for drug testing.
Interestingly, Cousins was not so shy about the AFL drug tests. He passed 14 of them, despite having a raging "substance abuse problem" costing a reported $3000 per week. There are mixed reports about whether or not he asked for - and passed - a test following the death of former Weagle and mentor Chris Mainwaring. Cousins had visited the troubled "Mainy" twice in the hours before his death and Mainwaring's toxicology report revealed a cocktail of drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, anti-depressants and alcohol.
If Cousins has been using illicit drugs, I'm not surprised he refused a drugs test by WA police. After all, the police will not give you a week's notice before the test. Nor will they accept "sorry, can't provide a sample right now" as an excuse - unlike certain other drugs testers.
Also in Cousins' car were two young women - described as "scantily clad" - but it's not yet clear what charges they may face, if any. At the same time, his out-of-contract team mate Daniel Chick was also pulled over and investigated. A passenger in this vehicle, Nathan Greaves, has been charged with possession of cocaine and cannabis following a search of his house. Methamphetamines and "drug paraphernalia" (presumably various glass pipes and/or scales and baggies) were also found.
It looks a lot like this cosy little par-tay was interrupted by the police. The predictable whiners and apologists over at the Big Footy forum had the usual mix of conspiracy theories and heads-in-the-sand, decrying this as a "sting operation" targeting Cousins and a waste of public resources. Here's a tip kids: if you wander into the middle of a drugs sweep in your pimp-wagon and drive erratically, you'll get pulled. What's more, getting drug-affected motorists off the road is a good use of our tax dollars, regardless of how wealthy, famous or talented they are.
It seems certain that Cousins will never play professional footy again. He was already on a strict contract with the club following his very public fall from grace in March this year, triggering an expensive - but ultimately ineffective - bout of rehab. It was always doomed to failure, requiring him to, amongst things, avoid underworld figures. (Technically, just turning up to training with the West Coast Illegals constituted a breach of this clause.) His half-arsed "public apology" was that of an unrepentant man.
While his time at the top has been relatively short, he packed a lot in. Brawling with Daniel Kerr. Giving advice (along with Michael Gardiner) to outlaw motorcycle gangs over their nightclub shootings. Fleeing a booze bus on foot. Collapsing out the front of a casino late at night. These are the sorts of punk-acts that he will be remembered as throwing away his career over: an arrogant spoilt brat who believed all his own hype and, in the end, wasn't big enough where it counted.
Ben Cousins had the whole world at his feet. A good-looking rich kid with a staggering talent for footy. Adoration from millions of fans. A salary 20 times greater than others his age. The highest awards from the game, including the Brownlow Medal. He had been given "one last chance" so many times that his club was a joke. So keen were they to ensure his brilliance continued despite the damage, the League had to step in and threaten to take away premiership points to get them to act.
Well, they've finally done it. They tried everything to look the other way but, coming on top of Mainwaring's death just two weeks ago and lost sponsors, they just ran out of ladder and had to let Cousins drop. Even the players' union, under Brendon Gale, have washed their hands of him.
That a selfish drug culture has been allowed to flourish in Perth is undeniable. Many former players and leaders are calling for further action for club officials. Here at The Speccy, we're calling for an inquiry into the AFL's drug problem by an independent retired judicial figure - at the AFL's expense, not the taxpayers'. The outcome of this inquiry should determine what's happened and who's responsible before making recommendations for drug policy reform in the League.
The AFL cannot afford to wait for further careers to be destroyed - yet alone lives lost - before acting.
Cousins has had his (first) day in court and been allowed out on bail:
In a brief court appearance, Cousins was remanded on bail for 90 days to reappear in the same court on January 21 to face charges of drug possession and refusing to undergo a driver assessment.
Lawyer for Cousins, Shane Brennan, told the court had had spoken to police prosecutors who had agreed to the long adjournment. (The West Australian, 18/10/2007)
He is now free to return to $5,000/day rehab in the US. One can only presume that the court decided it's safe for him to leave the country on the grounds that all his drug dealers are here.
News services are reporting that the possession charge against Ben Cousins has been dropped. It's not yet clear if Cousins actually "found" a prescription for his Valium or if former team-mate and sparring partner Daniel Kerr (who has a conviction for fraudulently passing a Valium script) kindly sourced one for him. Or, maybe, rich people just don't need scripts?
In any case, his charge of refusing to subject himself to a drug test is proceeding:
[The West Coast Eagles] released a statement that it had been informed by the West Australian police that the charge of being in possession of a prohibited substance had been dropped.
The club noted however that, "this does not change the club position or the decision made on Wednesday to terminate Ben's contract because of repeated and serious breaches to his agreement with the club". (Sportal, 19/10/2007)
Here's more juicy details about what was found in his car, including the suggestion of "hammerheading" or (groan) "sextasy" - combining Viagra with ecstasy:
They say other drugs were found in the car including the prohibited pain-killer, OxyContin, Viagra and an anti-depressant.
A $20 note with traces of cocaine and MDMA or ecstasy, was also found on one of the passengers in Cousins' car. (ABC, 19/10/2007)
Quite the little party for a Tuesday morning, wouldn't you say? Doesn't really change much since the possession charge was always going to be tricky; all that coke and dope were carefully stashed in the other car. Not that it was Benny's gear. I mean, who on earth would leave their precious stash in Daniel Chick's car?
Rumours of Ben Cousins' five-day cocaine binge in LA have been confirmed. News media are reporting that he was hospitalised, after a friend, software sales manager Susie Ella, made an emergency 911 call at 5am:
THE emergency early morning call to the Hermosa Beach Police Department last week described a 29-year-old man "on cocaine not acting right". Later, the caller added, the man "has been on cocaine for the past five days".
The Herald has confirmed that Cousins was admitted to the Little Company of Mary hospital, in the adjoining suburb of Torrance, soon after the emergency call. Cousins remained at the hospital for two days before being discharged on Friday, November 2.
It described Cousins as "not acting right, is conscious and breathing". She told the operator Cousins had been on cocaine for the previous five days. She said he was "not being violent, is just scared". (SMH, 10/11/2007)
Absent a PR firm on retainer, Cousins' poor old dad Bryan was left to do the spinning while Cousins was on a coke bender and being rushed to hospital. Of more concern is that allegation that he spent a couple of nights in Sydney with the notorious Michael Gardiner - hardly the actions of a man hell-bent on getting clean.
I suspected that his "network" in LA might consist of anyone with cocaine. While this is a large group - especially in Los Angeles - I didn't think that he would end up hanging with the IT crowd. As the Yanks say - go figure.
In a startling admission of the impact Ben Cousins has on his team-mates, former West Coast player Glen Jakovich has spoken up about his relief at seeing Cousins sacked:
"Players will excel because the Cousins factor is gone," Jakovich said. "I truly believe players, young and older, felt intimidated by Cousins while he was in an unfit state to engage in training and team requirements.
"You can't win a premiership if things are not right off the field. It ruins team morale. (Herald-Sun, 13/1/2008)
We hear of phenomena like amphetamine psychosis and, from watching US reality crime show Cops, it looks very frightening. So while Cousins isn't a large man by any stretch, it's disturbing to think he could still intimidate the huge players in a violence-prone club like West Coast.
I guess this is one more reason to get serious about drug testing in the AFL. Those players who opt out of footy's drug culture shouldn't have to put up with intimidation by their colleagues.
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