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Sun-Herald

Risk vs reward

Author: IAN HEADS
Date: 21/06/1998
Words: 489
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 111
TWENTY-ONE years on, Graham "Shovels" Olling understands the temptation factor that leads footballers over the edge and into the world of steroids. In 1978, the Australian prop made history and the headlines when he revealed that he had undertaken a course of anabolic steroids.

In rugby league, he was the first.

"I don't condone it," he said yesterday. "With the rules as they are now, they are risking careers.

"But with the rewards that exist in rugby league today, I can understand some blokes weighing it all up - the health risks, the cheating aspects of it - and deciding to take the chance.

"There's such a lot on offer in sport today - money, prestige - that it will keep happening."

Olling, the former Easts, Parramatta and Australian prop forward, has looked on with a quizzical eye at league's growing drugs storm during the week.

Now living in Brisbane, he had an inkling that his phone might ring one day and he would be pitchforked back into the news.

By today's standards, as footballers confront a bewildering range of "supplements", some OK, some not, some borderline, Olling's was a modest affair.

Under strict medical supervision he undertook a six-week course of steroids in the off-season of 1977-78, five milligrams a day. Olling did nothing illegal: steroid use was not banned in league then.

"I didn't understand it at the time, but knowing what I know now, I realise that I was only on therapeutic doses," Olling explained yesterday.

"It was just something I tried. A lot of people try different things through life."

The program, supervised by a doctor associated with Sydney's City Tattersall's Club, went hand-in-hand with an intensive six-week training program.

In 1978 he had the best season of an admirable, hard-working career, playing four Tests, two of them on the Kangaroo tour where he proved a fine team man and strong performer.

Olling has no idea what effect the steroid program had on him and his career.

"I honestly don't think it did too much for me," he said.

"I put on a little bit of weight.

"But I was training six days a week then, and I'm inclined to think that anything I got, I reckon I got through the work I did."

Olling believes he suffered no health after-effects of the comparatively light steroids program.

Today, while understanding the mind-set of players who do stray in the '90s, he counsels them against it.

"With the way the game is today, with interchange, if blokes do the right training they will have the endurance to do what has to be done," he said.

Olling is still bemused at the fuss his own actions caused.

"It was just something I did," he said. "I didn't think it was any drama.

"Honestly, I thought it had all blown over by now."

SUNDAY SCOREBOARD
  NRL LADDER       P       W       D      L        F        A      Pts
  Melbourne          15      12       1       2      373     202    25
  Newcastle         14      12       -       2      330     187     24
  Parramatta         15      12       -       3      306     202     24
  St George          14      11       -       3      311     232     22
  Sydney City       14      10       -       4      366     231     20
  Brisbane            14       9       -       5      396     204      18
  North Sydney    15       9       -       6      382     269     18
  Canberra           14       8       -       6      314     251     16
  Balmain              15       8       -       7      277     252     16
  Cronulla             15       8       -       7      244     243     16
  Illawarra            15       7       1       7      313     314     15
  North Qld           15       7       -       8      259     332     14
  Canterbury        14       6       -       8      266     252     12
  Auckland           14       5       -       9      221     301     10
  Penrith               14       4       -      10      310     359     8
  Manly                 14       4       -      10      220     335     8
  Wests                14       4       -      10      252     387     8
  Adelaide             15       3       -      12      193     403     6
  Gold Coast         15       3       -      12      172     416     6
  South Sydney    15       2       -      13      203     336     4

TOP TACKLERS
 L. Ricketson (Sydney City)      406
 J. Goddard (Gold Coast)          405
 S. Bonetti (Sydney City)           378
 L. Swann (Auckland)               367
 T. Norton (Canterbury)             359
 J. Schloss (Souths0                 359
 M. Stimson (Balmain)                356

MOST OFF-LOADS
 R. Kearns (Melbourne)              53
 S. Kearney (Auckland)              51
 D. Pay (Parramatta)                   47
 P. Harragon (Newcastle)          44
 Ken McGuiness (Wests)           41
 D. Furner (Canberra)                 41
 A. Johns (Newcastle)               38

MOST HIT-UPS
 R. Howe (Melbourne)             278
 M. Bai (Melbourne)                 269
 C. Smith (Illawarra)                 261
 C. Schifcofske (Parramatta)   242
 P. Carige (Parramatta)            237
 C. Pearson (St George)          236
 R. Kearns (Melbourne)           234

MOST LINE BREAKS
 D. Lockyer (Brisbane)             21
 T. Brasher (Souths)                19
 S. Jones (Auckland)               19
 S. Renouf (Brisbane)              18
 M. McLinden (Canberra)         17
 S. Menzies (Manly)                 16
 J. Ainscough (St George)       16
Statistics correct after Round 14
I&T League Stats.
 
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