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Federal MP alleges "off the books" drug tests of AFL players

Callan Morse -

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has used parliamentary privilege to allege AFL players have been subject to secret drug tests to avoid game-day detection.

The allegations are based on statements former Melbourne Demons president Glen Bartlett and Zeeshan Arain, who was head doctor at the Demons from 2014-2020.

Describing his sources of information as credible and detailed, Mr Wilkie made the allegations in parliament on Tuesday night.

"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," Mr Wilkie said.

"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."

During Arain's tenure as Demons' head doctor the team had numerous Indigenous players on their list.

National Indigenous Times is not suggesting any Indigenous former Demons are were subject to the off-the-books tests.

Mr Wilkie alleged if a test showed no illegal drugs in a player's system they were free to play, however if there are drugs in their system the player was 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 )the World Anti-Doping Agency)," he said.

"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."

On Wednesday, Demons coach Simon Goodwin said he had no "line of sight" on alleged secret illicit drug tests.

"This policy is an AFL policy, it's an AFLPA (AFL Players Association) policy and it's led through a medical model, so you're asking me questions that I have no line of sight over and it's something that I've never really thought about to be honest," Goodwin said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"All I do is I get the information that I'm required and the policy says that it's information that should remain confidential.

"So it's not unexpected that I don't have the information because that's the way the policy is designed."

In declining to address Mr Wilkie's allegations specifically, Goodwin said the club would "digest" the information they had received some 12 hours previous.

"As we work through it today and the AFL provides some more information, I think we'll be able to build some more clarity about what it looks like moving forward, but I'm not going to speculate on what that will look like until we get all the information," he said.

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