AFL bombshell: Federal MP Andrew Wilkie says Melbourne Demons covered up drug-taking with fake injuries

Jackson Barrett
The Nightly
3 Min Read
In a bombshell for the sport, federal MP Andrew Wilkie told Parliament on Tuesday night he had received a signed statement from former Melbourne head doctor Zeeshan Arain in which he accuses the AFL of facilitating the tests to help players dodge breaches of the World Andi-Doping Agency code.
In a bombshell for the sport, federal MP Andrew Wilkie told Parliament on Tuesday night he had received a signed statement from former Melbourne head doctor Zeeshan Arain in which he accuses the AFL of facilitating the tests to help players dodge breaches of the World Andi-Doping Agency code. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

A former AFL club doctor says he conducted secret tests on players who had confessed to taking drugs to ensure their systems were clear before matches and claims they were authorised by the league.

In a bombshell for the sport, federal MP Andrew Wilkie told Parliament on Tuesday night he had received a signed statement from former Melbourne head doctor Zeeshan Arain in which he accuses the AFL of facilitating the tests to help players dodge breaches of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

And the whistleblower sensationally claims players were advised to “fake an injury” if they were still found to have illicit substances in their system in the lead-up to games.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Joel Smith of the Demons in action during the 2023 AFL First Qualifying Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Melbourne Demons at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 07, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
Joel Smith Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Arain accuses the AFL of carrying out the tests at Dorevitch Pathology in Heidelberg.

Former player Shaun Smith, the father of provisionally suspended Demons forward Joel Smith, also brought forward the allegations, according to Mr Wilkie, where he called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to intervene.

“I rise to bring the house’s attention deeply troubling allegations of egregious misconduct within the AFL provided by former Melbourne football club president Glen Bartlett, former Melbourne football club doctor Zeeshan Arain and Shaun Smith, father of Melbourne player and now alleged drug trafficker Joel Smith,” he told parliament in an address on Tuesday.

“The allegations include the prevalence of drug abuse and other prohibited behaviour across the AFL, off-the-books drug-testing of players at Dorevitch Pathology in Heidelberg, facilitated by the former chief medical officer of the AFL Peter Harcourt, the resting of players testing positive in these secret tests, ostensibly on account of injury . . .

“Here is what happened, as described to me: The AFL wants the player to play at all costs, and so the cover-up begins.

“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.

“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.

“In other words, hundreds of thousands of Australians will watch the game not knowing that the game has been secretly manipulated by the AFL and thousands of Australians will bet on that game not knowing the game has been secretly manipulated by the AFL.

“So next time you hear a player has a hamstring injury, you could be forgiven for wondering what is really going on.

“But as Dr Arain explains, this isn’t just a Melbourne problem; it is an AFL problem with multiple players coming to Melbourne from other teams with pre-existing cocaine dependencies more than suggesting that drug testing workarounds are commonplace elsewhere in the AFL.

“The documents in my possession also indicate a shocking unwillingness of senior AFL executives to address drug abuse by players and executives, particularly in relation to cocaine use.”

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