Drug-free policy introduced at Vasco
Vasco da Gama have become the first Bermudian football club to introduce mandatory random drug testing for players.
Brian Dickinson, the Vasco coach, is behind the club’s unprecedented anti-drugs policy and stipulated they sign only players who agreed to random testing.
The club, which celebrates the island’s Portuguese heritage, made the announcement at an official launch at their Reid Street venue on Saturday night.
Vasco are making a return to the local football landscape after a two-decade absence and will play in the First Division this season.
“We want to create the right sort of environment,” Dickinson said. “If you have players who participate in a certain lifestyle, they probably have associates who also participate in that lifestyle.
“We don’t want to bring that around a club which doesn’t have a reputation for antisocial behaviour. It’s a family-oriented club.”
Dickinson, a former Paget Lions coach and Somerset Trojans assistant, said Vasco’s “rebirth” was the perfect time to initiate such a programme, which he admits will be difficult for certain clubs to mirror.
“This has never been done before and Vasco are coming into the league, so it’s an excellent time to introduce it,” he said.
“If other clubs try to implement [drug-testing], it will be very difficult as they will have to change their culture. I feel we’re playing a good role in the progression of football in Bermuda.”
Paulo Franco, Vasco’s acting president, said the club fully supports Dickinson’s demand for players to be drug-tested.
“I heard Brian say to the guys in training, ‘If you want to be here, you have to be a member of the club and you have to be willing to take a drugs test’,” Franco said. “If they didn’t say ‘yes’ to those questions, he sent them packing.
“All of the players have signed an agreement to take a drugs test. We’re very proud that everyone is on the same page where that’s concerned.
“Hopefully, we can be an example moving forward and be trailblazers. We want a clean sport and we will do our part to make it clean.”
Deborah Hunter, chief executive, of the Bermuda Sport Anti-Doping Authority, praised the club’s zero-tolerance stance against drugs. “We’re hoping that this true and worthy example is going to be followed by other clubs,” she said.
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