AFL players investigated for drug use

MATT MURNANE
Last updated 17:58 10/02/2013

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Multiple players from Essendon and one player from one other AFL club are being investigated for possible performance-enhancing drug use.

AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan addressed the media in Melbourne on Sunday and said the Australian Crime Commission report only identified two specific cases where WADA prohibited performance-enhancing drugs may have been used in the AFL.

McLachlan confirmed one of those clubs was Essendon - who went to the AFL with concerns over supplement use before the ACC handed down their report on Thursday.

McLachlan said the possible breaches of the AFL Doping code would be investigated.

''The AFL is aware of one case involving the possibility of WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drug use by one player at one club,'' said McLachlan, before adding that the AFL could not comment on the identity of the player and club in question, or whether it even knew.

''The AFL is aware that a second case involves the possibility of WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drug use by multiple players at one club,'' he said.

''In this case, it's possible that players were administered the WADA-prohibited substances without their knowledge or consent.''

As McLachlan addressed the media at AFL House on Sunday, he confirmed the club with multiple breaches was Essendon.

''Given that the Essendon Football Club has come forward to the AFL and ASADA and proactively advised us of concerns they have, it's reasonable to [say]... that the AFL is aware of potential multiple breaches at that club,'' he said.

McLachlan said the AFL was not aware of any specific instances of suspected match-fixing in AFL competition.

Nor is it aware of any current or ongoing use of WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drugs in the AFL.

McLachlan said the two identified incidences being investigated were ''historical''.

Essendon has already revealed it has concerns over supplement use in 2012, but the AFL would not say when the second potential breach is alleged to have occurred.

The AFL said it had only been made aware of the two potential breaches in the past week.

McLachlan said the AFL assumed the club with the single player would already be aware they would be under investigation. 

Aside from the revelations of two investigations into performance-enhancing drugs, McLachlan says the AFL is also aware ''of a serious issue around the use of illicit drugs by players around the competition''.

''The information we've been provided only re-enforce a view and information we already had so I'm not going to provide a commentary on clubs and numbers of players,'' he said.

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McLachlan said the investigations into the two potential performance-enhancing breaches was more likely to ''months rather than weeks''.

''The reality is it is not going to be as quick as everyone would like,'' he said.

''It's not going to be as quick as the club, the players, the AFL, the media, the supporters would like.

''The reality is that the investigators, which is ultimately ASADA in partnership with the AFL, have to get the right answer and that will take as long as it takes.''

The AFL said it chose to go public with what it had learned since the ACC handed down its report to add ''clarity and context'' to fears that the use of performance-enhancing substances could be widespread in the AFL.

McLachlan said the integrity of the competition was of the ''utmost priority'' to the AFL and the commission.

''At the moment, and if you read a lot of the press, every player and every club is potentially a drug cheat and potentially has problems,'' McLachlan said.

''I'm not in any way downplaying the vulnerabilities and risks that have been outlined last Thursday, and we take this incredibly seriously in partnership with all relevant authorities,'' he said.

''But what we know now is that there are two incidences of potential performance-enhancing drug use, no potential match-fixing issues around match fixing and some vulnerabilities around illicit drugs.

''That is what we are talking about right now in the AFL.''

McLachlan admitted the AFL was ''fairly disappointed'' about the level its brand had been tarnished since the ACC report, even though it is only aware of two incidences of potential performance-enhancing drug use being investigated.

- The Age

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