AFL hits back over 'secret' drugs cover-up claims amid shock reaction from clubs

The AFL was hit with some serious allegations over a 'secret' cover-up.

The Swans, Port Adelaide and the Demons have responded after the AFL doubled down and claimed it is 'unapologetic' for the steps taken to ensure players with illicit substances in their system do not take part in matches for their own safety after bombshell allegations. Federal MP Andrew Wilkie on Tuesday told parliament of allegations made by former Melbourne club doctor Zeeshan Arain, ex-Demons president Glen Bartlett and Shaun Smith, father of Melbourne player and alleged drug trafficker Joel Smith.

Wilkie said the trio had alleged players who tested positive had faked injury and withdrawn from games to avoid match-day testing by Sports Integrity Australia (SIA), and that "off-the-books" test results were never shared with SIA or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Since the allegations, AFL CEO Andrew Dillon called a press conference on Wednesday to address the accusations levelled at the code.

Port Adelaide president David Koch and AFL Demons coach Simon Goodwin.
Port Adelaide president David Koch (pictured left) and Demons coach Simon Goodwin (pictured right) have reacted with shock to the bombshell AFL claims. (Getty Images)

Dillon admitted the code was unapologetic about the policy - created in 2005 - aimed at protecting the welfare of players. "We are unapologetic about club and AFL doctors taking the correct steps to ensure that any player who they believe has an illicit substance in their system does not take part in any AFL match and that doctor patient confidentially is upheld and respected," he said.

"The medical interests and welfare of players is a priority for the AFL given everything we know about the risks facing young people generally and those who play our game in particular." Dillon dodged questions about players being instructed by their clubs to fake injuries if they tested positive for illicit substances, consistently falling back on the line that it was "private medical information".

"The private medical information of the players is private medical information and that's what we prioritise above anything else," he said. "What we're talking about is a doctor and the player who's their patient and private medical information of that player - which is the private medical information of that player, and it's that player's decision to disclose or not."

Wilkie sent the Aussie sport scene into a spin having described the "deeply troubling allegations of egregious misconduct within the AFL" from Arain, Bartlett and Smith as credible and detailed. He provided signed statements identifying the sources of the documents. Amongst the allegations was asking a player to 'fake an injury'.

"If there are no illegal drugs in the player's system they are free to play, and if there are drugs in their system the player is often asked to fake an injury," Wilkie said. "They are advised to lie about a condition, while the ­results of the off-the-book tests are kept secret and are never shared with Sports Integrity Australia or WADA."

Andrew Wilkie and Andrew Dillon.
AFL boss Andrew Dillon (pictured right) addressed serious allegations on Wednesday after Federal MP Andrew Wilkie told parliament of claims of drug cover-up's in the code. (Images: AAP/Fox Sports)

Demons and Swans react to bombshell claims

Melbourne Demons coach Simon Goodwin addressed the bombshell allegations and claimed he would be seeking more answers having no knowledge of such practices. "(The drugs) policy is an AFL policy, it's an AFLPA (Players Association) policy and it's led through a medical model," Goodwin said.

"So you're asking me questions that I have no line of sight over. It's something that I've never really thought about. I just back in the process of what the policy is. These are questions you're going to have to ask the AFL."

Simon Goodwin.
Simon Goodwin (pictured) addressed the bombshell allegations and claimed he would be seeking more answers. (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Swans chief executive Tom Harley denied ever knowing or witnessing the allegations that have been put forward. “The illicit drugs policy in the AFL, we are absolutely all aware that it’s a medical model. We put enormous trust and faith into our medical practitioners and our doctors,” Harley said on Wednesday.

“I can only comment on what I’ve seen and the clubs that I’ve been involved in, and I’ve never seen that. There’s no doubt that what’s been reported is having some cut through this morning. As a representative of the club, I’m sure there’ll be more information passed through in the next 24-48 hours into what it really means. All I can say is that it’s not a practice or a behaviour that I’ve been privy to.”

Port Adelaide president David Koch admitted he was taken aback when he heard of the serious allegations. “I am absolutely stunned by it,” Koch said on FiveAA Radio.

“I’m reticent to comment because I only know what we’ve all read in the paper and the allegations. Obviously the AFL will be investigating it closely. To have a deliberate route to avoid testing seems beyond belief to me. If you’re a serious participant signing up to the WADA procedures you would think every ‘I’ would be dotted and every ‘T’ crossed to do the right thing. So I’m as shocked as anyone.”

with AAP