Home Australia ‘We’re all really surprised’: Voss joins chorus of disappointment of drugs policy as AFLPA defends process

‘We’re all really surprised’: Voss joins chorus of disappointment of drugs policy as AFLPA defends process

0 comment
Paul Marsh

Only an “incredibly small number” of AFL players have been protected by secret drug testing in the last decade, the head of the AFL Players’ Association (AFLPA) says.

AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said speculation in a Herald Sun article that club doctors have granted some immunity to 100 players based on drug test results is conjecture.

Marsh stressed that only the AFL would know the actual figures, but in his experience the number of players involved in such cases was small.

“It seems like the commentary on this is that it happens every week,” Marsh said.

“In my time in the AFLPA, there would be less than a handful of these examples.

“And what would happen here, typically, is that the club… would come to us and say, ‘Is it okay for us to test this player because we’re worried about him testing positive on match day?’

“And our opinion is that they are looking out for the player’s well-being. That makes sense.”

AFLPA chief Paul Marsh said the number of players protected by the drug policy is “incredibly small”.(Getty Images: Darrian Traynor)

“I couldn’t definitively say that happens every time, but it certainly does.

“I’ve been doing this job for almost 10 years and there would be less than a handful of players for whom this has been an example.

“(An) incredibly small number.

“Nowhere near the level that perhaps… this story suggests.”

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon said on Wednesday the league “makes no apologies” for giving club doctors powers to remove players from matches if they were at risk of testing positive on match day.

Sport Integrity Australia is investigating allegations of secret illicit drug testing, which were initially raised under parliamentary privilege by Federal MP Andrew Wilkie.

Under the testing regime, doctors are not required to inform their club hierarchy of any positive tests for illicit drugs.

Marsh said the confidentiality was necessary to protect players from backlash from clubs that have threatened to use such information in contract negotiations.

“We do not discourage players from discussing this with their coaches, their CEOs and their presidents if they wish,” he said.

“What the players fear is that it will be used against them when hiring or whatever… and the clubs freely admit that they would do that.”

Following Dillon’s press conference, the AFLPA issued a statement supporting the AFL’s stance.

“The AFL Players’ Association supports the AFL’s position on this issue and reiterates that players voluntarily accept the Illicit Drug Policy (IDP) on the basis that it is a medical model and focuses on identifying, educating and rehabilitating “. he read.

“What is often misunderstood on this issue is that the IDP is separate from the AFL Anti-Doping Code, which is overseen by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and focuses on identifying and sanctioning any athlete who may be taking steps to improve performance. substances.”

Carlton coach Michael Voss said he was “disappointed” at the way the policy was being handled.

“Obviously there are comments from the clubs and then the whole industry and how we have perceived it,” Voss told reporters on Thursday.

“I’m really in the same basket: we’re all really surprised and a little disappointed by where it is currently.

“It’s now up to the AFL and the AFLPA to review what that looks like and what the best next steps are for us… it’s been a bit surprising how it’s all played out.”

Voss said he had never considered that some players might have used the so-called medical model to fake an injury so they could not play and undergo a possible SIA test on game day.

“As far as any doubt about player availability, I’ve never had that doubt,” he said.

Voss joined a growing list of frustrated players and coaches, including three-time head coach Mick Malthouse.

“It’s quite damning, it’s a huge surprise. I can’t believe how angry I feel hearing the news,” Malthouse said Wednesday morning after hearing Wilkie’s claims.

“To begin with, we have an obligation with the health of the players; we have an obligation with the game, we want a fair and honest game, we want the players who run the race to play good football without compromises.

“This is almost on the same level as the Essendon saga; in fact, it could even go further. “This suggests AFL officials are involved in this.

“It’s so damning… it will put every player, every club official and, in particular, the club’s doctors, under scrutiny.

“I can’t describe how angry I am about this… I’ve been in football for 50 years, and you think how this can be possible?”


Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered every Friday.

You may also like