The impact on the field might be minimal, but the damage done to the Calgary Stampeders is a bit disturbing.
Running back Roy Finch was handed a two-game suspension from the CFL on Monday for violating the substance abuse policy. The second-year back, who doubles as the return specialist, isn’t the type of player you would associate with using a performance-enhancing substance seeing as how he’s all of 5-foot-7 and 171 pounds.
He was caught using D-amphetamine, something he says is taken to treat attention-deficit disorder. Finch could have received a therapeutic-use exemption if he applied for it, but he failed to do that, and now he’s going to miss the next two weeks of game action. It will be up to the team whether he participates in meetings or practices.
While a mistake, it’s not acceptable for a professional athlete not to know what he was taking and whether it was legal within the rules of the substance abuse policy, especially considering that the Stamps went through a drug suspension just a year ago, one that Finch would have witnessed firsthand.
Defensive tackle Quinn Smith served a three-game suspension — a tougher penalty because of a previous violation in university — and that should have shaken awake the entire organization to be on high alert over what the players were taking.
Finch, to his credit, is fully taking the heat on this one.
“I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility,” he said in a team issued statement. “I want to make it clear that there was absolutely no intent on my part to cheat as I was taking the medication to treat attention-deficit disorder. At the same time, I know that I’m responsible for what goes into my body and I should have asked more questions. I apologize to the fans, the coaches and my teammates for the embarrassment I have caused.”
The Stamps brass has every right to be perturbed about the situation. If it’s simple paperwork for Finch to legally take this drug for his condition, he should have done that and should be fully aware of what the consequences are if he took it illegally.
“The Calgary Stampeders were very disappointed to learn about Roy’s violation of the policy on drugs,” Stamps GM John Hufnagel said in a team released statement. “We understand the medication taken by Roy was to treat a legitimate medical condition however, by failing to follow procedure and obtain a therapeutic-use exception, Roy is subject to this penalty. While I believe this was an honest mistake on Roy’s part, it was a mistake nevertheless and it’s important that he and all players learn from this episode.”
Maybe this latest episode will finally be an eye-opener for the players about what they can use legally and what is banned.
We don’t know for sure if Finch made a legitimate mistake or was trying to get away with something, which is why there is zero tolerance with the policy.
If Finch gets busted again, he would face a nine-game suspension, with a year ban for a third offence and lifetime for a fourth. Smith might face harsher punishments if he were to get caught again.
The team itself might need to crack down harder if the players don’t get the message.
As for on the field, the Stamps will get a chance to see a young player in Finch’s spot for two weeks. Either Marken Michel or Terry Williams will get an opportunity to play — and earn a paycheque — with Finch gone, and this will be a golden chance for them to make an impression when none was forthcoming.
After a stellar first year, Finch was impressive in pre-season, taking back a punt for a touchdown in the second game when more of the Stamps veterans were playing, and he won his job back.
Now he will have to hope the Stamps don’t hand out additional punishment or that one of the newcomers doesn’t take over and force himself onto the roster.
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