If the situation at Sports Direct – The UK's Largest Sports Goods retailer, wasn’t bad enough, the company's latest drug scandal is sure to be the final nail in the athletic giant’s coffin. Last week Labour MP John Mann called for Sports Direct's main warehouse to be shut down following reports of widespread drug use amongst its employees. The claims stemming from an in-depth investigation conducted by The Sun depicts an environment reminiscent of an established drug den. Sources have claimed that bags were found behind merchandise “crammed with needles, glass tubes and burnt spoons and foil” (The Sun). This isn’t the first time Sports Direct has faced on site drug use claims. The sun reports that since 2012 there have been a total of 23 drink and drug breaches resulting in 5 instances of police involvement. According to The Daily Mail, employees have been seen taking Class A cocaine, as well as cannabis and amphetamines.
The new evidence has increased calls for publicity-shy Sports Direct Boss Mike Ashley’s resignation. Ashley has already been the target of protestors angered at the abysmal treatment of Sport Direct staff made to work in conditions ‘akin to a Victorian workhouse’ (Reuters). The Grimsby Telegraph reports that workers ‘were so worried about their jobs that they feared to call in sick, resulting in a number of ambulances being called to the warehouse in Shirebrook in Derbyshire.’ Alongside the zero hours’ contracts, Sport Direct staff members were also being paid less than the legal minimum wage. However, in the wake of an undercover Guardian investigation, officials estimate that some workers are set to be reimbursed up to £1,000 ($ 1,329.36 USD) for this gross infringement.
The drugs scandal is a huge step back for the athletic giant who had attempted to regain some of its credibility through the unprecedented move of inviting non-shareholders ‘to an open day on Sept. 7 to coincide with its annual shareholders' meeting (AGM)’ (Reuters). A move which might be too little too late according to MP John Mann who has “no confidence [that Sports Direct] can turn it around’.