Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah says he’s concerned about NRL players regularly taking both caffeine and sleeping tablets.
Speaking at an anti-doping roundtable alongside disgraced Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson in Sydney on Thursday, Farah said he was among many athletes who used caffeine tablets before a game.
“I think caffeine’s widely accepted,” he said.
“(But) I worry about players I do know of that do take downers, or sleeping tablets after games.
“I notice when I take caffeine tablets before a game, I’m awake in bed at four in the morning staring at the ceiling. You just can’t get to bed.
“There have been times where I’ve had to take something when I go to bed. I don’t do it regularly but I do know of players that are doing it week-in, week-out. It does become a concern.
“… I don’t want it to become a widespread issue.”
Farah said it was purely his decision to take the caffeine tablets, which are offered to players by doctors and trainers and are a legal substance.
“It’s our choice, it’s not forced upon us.
“There’ll be games I don’t take it. But some games I’ll feel the need or I feel like I want to take it to get my energy levels up a bit.”
Farah also opened up about “absolute shock” he felt when learning of the doping allegations that sparked ASADA’s investigations into the NRL and AFL, saying before this season he didn’t even know what a peptide was.
“I’ve been around for 11 seasons now, and I can honestly say … I’d never seen or heard anything or suspected a player or anyone I knew of being involved in doping,” Farah told AAP.
“I was probably naive to the fact that there were players out there taking illicit drugs.
“I don’t think it’s as widespread as everyone thinks – I’m hoping it’s not anyway. From my experience, I know that 99 per cent of the people are doing the right thing.”
Farah said players, including himself, placed enormous trust in club support staff in charge of their supplements program.
“As soon as our we’ve finished our weights session we come out the kitchen and I’ve got a shake – every player’s got a shake – with their name on it with supplements in it.
“I’ve got no idea what’s in it, but we’re told to take it.
“I’d never think twice to ask what’s in it, because you just don’t expect for anything to be in there that’s illegal.
“I’m a bit older now so anything I put in my body, if I’ve got question marks over it, I will ring the WADA hotline and double check it.
“If I was told you’ve got to take a needle offsite, I’d start waving the red flag.”
“But a lot of players are at such a young age and they don’t think twice about asking questions.”