‘Ask the AFL’: Goodwin handballs questions over secret drug test allegations


Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says he was surprised by allegations of secret drug-testing being conducted to enable AFL players to avoid detection.

Federal MP Andrew Wilkie on Tuesday told parliament of the allegations made by whistleblowing former Demons club doctor Zeeshan Arain, ex-club 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Wilkie said the trio had alleged players who tested positive had faked injuries and withdrawn from games to avoid match-day drug testing by Sports Integrity Australia (SIA), and that details of the “off-the-books” tests were never shared with SIA or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

On Wednesday morning, Demons premiership coach Goodwin insisted he had no knowledge of the alleged practice.

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“(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.”

AAP has contacted the AFL for comment, and league chief executive Andrew Dillon is expected to address the allegations on Wednesday.

Goodwin said the allegations would not make him second-guess the information he receives from club doctors.

“When you start to digest the information that you get given, you take it on face value,” he said.

“This is a process that the AFL, the AFLPA and the club doctors put together from a confidentiality perspective, so to have no line of sight is not unusual.

“But I’ve got enormous trust in our doctor, in terms of them being able to do their job.

“I’m not going to question how they go about their business.”

(AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Wilkie described the “deeply troubling allegations of egregious misconduct within the AFL” from Arain, Bartlett and Smith as credible and detailed – and provided signed statements given to him clearly identifying the sources of the documents.

“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, wilful inaction by AFL chairman Richard Goyder, and former CEO Gill McLachlan and the removal of Mr Bartlett as president of Melbourne after he suggested to Mr Goyder and Mr McLachlan that AFL officials be regularly drug tested,” Wilkie told parliament on Tuesday night.

Wilkie said Arain had referenced the AFL wanting players to compete at all costs.

“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.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says he’s unaware of any players who have been removed from playing because of a positive drug test but listed as ‘injured’.

Consistently maintained this is an AFL issue, not a Demons issue.@FootyonNine @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/SsPnNs5cXA

— Tom Morris (@tommorris32) March 26, 2024

“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.”

Wilkie said Arain alleged it wasn’t a Melbourne problem but an “AFL problem” with a number of players arriving at the club with pre-existing cocaine dependencies.

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