#World News

Aussie Rules football denies it has a cocaine problem

By Tiffanie Turnbull

The Australian Football League (AFL) has denied it has a cocaine problem, after whistleblowers claimed abuse of the drug is widespread in the sport.

In a speech to parliament on Tuesday, an MP accused the Melbourne Demons club – and the AFL broadly – of covering up breaches of the league’s drug policy.

Players were being asked to fake injuries to avoid match day drug tests, Andrew Wilkie said.

The AFL’s boss did not deny those claims, but said drug use was uncommon.

The Australian Rules football competition draws the biggest fan attendances of any sport nationally.

Mr Wilkie used parliamentary privilege to air the allegations, which he says were provided to him by three people. They are former Demons president Glen Bartlett, former club doctor Zeeshan Arain, and Shaun Smith, a former player and father to current Demons player Joel Smith.

In his speech, Mr Wilkie claimed “off-the-books” tests were conducted at a Melbourne pathology clinic and facilitated by a former AFL chief medical officer.

Players that tested positive were “advised to lie about their condition” and the results were kept secret from governing bodies like Sports Integrity Australia (SIA) or the World Anti-Doping Agency, and even team coaches, the MP said.

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