Crows players receive suspended AFL ban

Steve Larkin
Sixteen Crows players have copped suspended bans for breaching AFL protocols at training

Adelaide assistant coach Ben Hart has been stood down and 16 Crows players given suspended one-game bans for breaking the AFL's coronavirus training protocols.

Hart will not be able to access the club facilities or have contact with players for six weeks for overseeing last week's botched training session in the Barossa Valley.

An AFL investigation found the breach was inadvertent and the Crows were was not seeking a competitive advantage when they trained together.

The 16 players and Hart were in self-isolation at a golf resort in the Barossa Valley, north of Adelaide, after returning to South Australia from interstate.

The group had received permission to train in pairs, as stipulated by AFL coronavirus protocols.

But towards the end of two-hour session last Thursday the players - in two groups of eight - trained together.

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said the sanctions on the 16 players and Hart were taken under current protocols.

But the Crows appear fortunate as the penalties were delivered before AFL toughens its rules regarding training as coronavirus restrictions are eased around Australia.

The AFL commission met on Monday and will soon announce "strengthened protocols", Dillon said.

"The (current) protocols are clear and the (Crows') actions in this matter, whilst not pre-planned, are a breach of them," Dillon said in a statement.

"We take this matter extremely seriously. We will not compromise the health and well-being of the community."

SA Police investigated the Crows but opted not to fine them for breaking the state's quarantine rules.

The 16 players included eight with AFL experience - Tom Doedee, who is in the Crows leadership group, Kyle Hartigan, Ben Davis, Billy Frampton, Elliott Himmelberg, Myles Poholke, Ben Keays and Lachlan Murphy.

The remainder - Will Hamill, Ayce Taylor, Lachlan Sholl, Jordon Butts, Lachlan Gollant, Ronin O'Connor, Fischer McAsey, Josh Worrell - are yet to play an AFL game.

The Crows, who admitted and apologised for the breach, accepted the sanctions.

"Relevant approvals were provided by both the AFL and SA Police for 16 players and an assistant coach to stay in a quarantine hub in the Barossa Valley," the club said in a statement.

"(Approvals included) permission to train in pairs in the open space areas and adhering to social distancing.

"The club acknowledges adherence to these protocols did not occur during the delivery of certain elements of the training program."

The investigation found the players complied with protocols for the majority of the session when they worked in pairs before separating into two groups of eight players.

One group completed an eight-minute kicking drill while the other an eight-minute running drill in pairs, before swapping.

The breaches occurred during the kicking drills, supervised by Hart.