AFL drugs scandal: Demons coach denies knowledge of ‘off the books’ tests as politicans call for probe

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Mebourne coach Simon Goodwin said the allegations were ‘news to me’.
Mebourne coach Simon Goodwin said the allegations were ‘news to me’. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Bombshell allegations that “off-the-books” illicit drug tests were conducted on AFL players to evade detection on match days should be investigated, a federal Liberal frontbencher has said.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie used the cover of parliamentary privilege late on Tuesday night to reveal he had received a signed statement from former Melbourne head doctor Zeeshan Arain in which he accuses the AFL of facilitating the secret tests to help players dodge breaches of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

The doctor-turned-whistleblower claimed players were told to “fake an injury” if they still had illicit drugs in their system in the run up to games.

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Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin on Wednesday morning said the allegations were “news to me” and it was up to the league to respond.

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

“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.

Mr Wilkie called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to intervene, declaring the AFL was “far too important for our nation”.

Speaking on Channel 7’s Sunrise, Liberal frontbencher Jane Hume backed an investigation into the allegations.

“Look, these were allegations made under parliamentary privilege and they probably do need to be further investigated,” she said.

“Certainly, AFL players are not above the law but also the officials in the AFL have a duty of care to the welfare of players and I think that it is worth further investigation.”

Senator Jane Hume at the cost of living forum in Perth.
Senator Jane Hume at the cost of living forum in Perth. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said it was important to “get to the bottom of this” given the standing of AFL players in the community.

“I haven’t read about the allegations ... so I think we’ll wait to hear a little more about the story,” she said.

“I just say, with the AFL, we have got such high expectations, these people are such important leaders for our community and for young people, we do want them to do the right thing.”

Sports Minister Annika Wells has been contacted for comment.

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