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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Channel 7 Goes Nuclear On AFL

On the day that Channel 7 was to be served papers by the West Coast Eagles over the Akermanis/Braun drug-cheating affair, Seven has taken "the nuclear option" by breaking one of the largest drug-scandals yet seen in AFL history. It seems the open war has been declared, with the battle already being fought out in court. With no sign of change in how the AFL executive's handles a culture steeped in widespread and persistent recreational drug use, get used to seeing stories like this.

Yesterday, Friday 24th of August, Channel 7 began hinting at an upcoming scandal and "seeding" the story on the afternoon news bulletins. From mid-afternoon, internet chat rooms and discussion forums where a-tingle with buzz, rumours and a sense of dread. While Seven had indicated it was a Melbourne-based club, among the fans, "God, I hope it's not my club" was a common refrain.

Seven News carried the story, which was picked up by all the media:

DEVELOPING STORY: A TELEVISION news report has accused two ******** footballers of taking the illegal drugs ecstasy, ice and cocaine during drug-fuelled nightclub sessions.

Channel 7 News tonight showed medical notes supposedly from a drug counselling session with the two ******** players.

A woman, Catherine, who spoke to the network on condition of anonymity, said she found the medical files with details of the drug use in a gutter outside an Ivanhoe clinic.

The medical records, which were shown with players names obscured, said the players had tested positive to ecstasy, ice and cocaine. They had taken the drugs with a group of other people.

Channel 9 reported Catherine had been paid by Channel 7 for the interview that obscured her identity. (PerthNow, 23/9/2007)

Other sources are reporting that up to seven players at the club are involved, though this is not confirmed in the press today.

THE AFL illicit drugs policy was in crisis last night as confidential medical records identifying two players who had tested positive to illegal drugs were sold to a commercial television station.

[ ... ]

The documents also contain claims that other players at the club regularly use drugs.

... The report did not identify the players but did disclose their club, as well as details about the frequency and nature of their drug use.

[ ... ]

The documents, which were paid for by Channel Seven, appear to be medical records of two players, referred to Ivanhoe's Victorian Addiction Centre by the clubs.

[ ... ]

Lawyers acting for the doctor treating the players — Professor Gregory Whelan — sought and obtained an injunction last night, preventing publication of the players' names or the club they represent. During its news program, Channel Seven said it had decided not to identify either player at the present time but was "continuing our investigations".

A woman interviewed as part of the Seven report claimed she found the papers in the gutter outside the Ivanhoe facility and could not return them because a gate to the centre was locked.

"I was just walking down the street when I saw some papers floating. I thought I'd pick them up and put them in the bin … I had a look and I recognised the names," said the woman, whose identity was obscured by the network. "I thought it was a shame I'd found them in the street."

Instead, she said, she sold the records to Channel Seven because she thought it would help the players involved. The Age understands the claim that the papers were found in the gutter is disputed. The centre's management said last night that it had no comment. (RealFooty, 25/8/2007)

Just after 6pm last night, Channel 7 got an injunction to prevent the club being named further in the media, with the AFL stating "Any media agency who intends to re-produce or re-publish any information to which the orders apply run the risk of being in contempt of court in doing so."

Today, this injunction was extended to the 30th of August. Once again, powerful wealthy parties are using the courts to prop up their money-making businesses at the expense of free speech. Once again, modern media technology renders the whole process pointless, since the club's name featured heavily in the titles and main text of numerous articles and discussion groups.

This scandal has intensified pressure on the AFL with it's lenient and much-maligned "three strikes" drugs policy. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou went out on the front foot today, decry the leak, bringing in the police and threatening further legal action. Interestingly, he praised sections of the media that knew about the story but refused to publish:

Demetriou said he was at least pleased that several media outlets had apparently rejected the private documents, allegedly found on a suburban street.

"This story yesterday was actually offered to many media outlets who chose not to run it which I commend them on, chose not to purchase it, which I also commend them on. (Brisbane Times, 25/8/2007)

This shows the danger of going up against a media outlet: they know where bodies are buried. It also raises a pointed question: would this scandal have come out if Seven and the AFL weren't presently feuding? What other stories are widely known in media circles but held back from the public by "gentlemen's agreements" - or mutual self-interest?

While the AFL defends its drug-testing policies and record, it belies the now-popular view that something is seriously wrong. It's not just a few bad apples. It's not restricted to the West Coast Illegals, or even a particular state. It seems something is going wrong across the board, and the AFL must be powerless, uninterested or inept at getting on top of the problem. They seem more focused on stopping the bad news getting out than stopping the party drug usage.

How else can you explain:

Sadly, the AFL seems very uneven in how it approaches drugs leaks: ones that suppress publicity are quietly swept aside, while ones that drive publicity are stepped on with their full resources.

It's been a big season for the League's drug dealers, with no signs of it slowing. The Ben Cousins drug scandal set the tone for the whole season. Daniel Kerr's taped conversation and Alan Didak's Hell Ride showed up the spill-over dangers of AFL players associating with those in the drugs trade.

By comparison, the Jason Akermanis/Michael Braun fiasco is tame and genteel. Is the West Coast Eagles management (through Michael Braun) really going to let Channel 7's lawyers loose on its internal documents as part of the "discovery phase" of a law suit? Now that they've dropped the H-bomb once, don't be surprised if the AFL backs away from pursuing Seven further over this one.

These scandals will be a constant feature of the game as long as we have a weak testing regime (a "shemozzle" in one player's words) coupled with a secretive, litigious and defensive executive and player union. Rather than just getting it all out in the open, the current setup encourages the media into the kind of cat-and-mouse games that drives the scandal drip-feed we're seeing now.

Maybe Demetriou needs to think about ripping the oozy Band Aid off in one vicious go, rather than having it slowly dragged off one painful hair at a time.

NB: References that identify the club in question have been removed, in accordance with the court injunction.

*** UPDATE ***

More breaking news in the story that ensures the AFL Season 2007 finishes the way it started, with a bitter taste in the mouth left by the public having to swallow something very unpleasant.

  • The AFL was effectively calling "barley" by pointing out the allegation of a second positive from one player are wrong, since the amount recorded was allegedly "below the legal threshold for the allowable limit for drugs". This sees the AFL spin doctors sink to a new low in "school-yard lawyer" tactics. We look forwards to seeing other childish legal precepts like "you touched it last" and "no returns" employed in court later this week.

  • Nathan Buckley, former AFL shop steward, stepped in and declared that AFL players may well abandon the entire (and apparently optional) illicit drug-testing process: "I can't see how the players would put their hands up to be exposed to something that we don't actually have to be a part of." Not that it seems to inconvenience them anyway, with these absurdly low positive rates.

  • The feud between the AFL and Channel Seven has ratcheted up a notch, with threats that footballers will boycott the Seven-broadcast Brownlow Medal count. This is a particularly cruel blow to the solarium industry, already under pressure over recent cancer stories, regulatory scrutiny and the implications for Spring Racing over horse flu.

  • The medical community has further entrenched its position on the issue with a Sports Medicine Australia statement declaring the AFL's policy "... reflects the modern approach in which those who use drugs should be treated as victims rather than criminals." There was a caveat, though, reminding the public that "... the responsibility of SMA members ... is to look after the athletes in their care".

  • Victoria Police executed a search warrant on Channel Seven's Docklands HQ, presumably looking for evidence about the medical records. To date, there are no reports of the club HQ or the players in question being searched for evidence of drug use or trafficking. It's a funny old world, isn't it?

  • Two people have been charged over stealing the records, and will face court in October. A 36-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman (from Ivanhoe West) have been charged with theft. To my knowledge, no charges have been laid against any of the footballers over their possession and use of drugs.

I wonder if the public's appetite for treating infrequent users of "party drugs" as "medical patients" (or "victims"!) will wane. By forcing the AFL's hand in this way, perhaps Channel Seven's actions will mean people will start to see this as it is - a discipline issue for which the AFL is ill-equipped to tackle.

*** UPDATE ***

Good Lord - this thing just keeps spiralling out of control! Now there are shocking allegations of a player at this club being an active drug dealer under investigation by the drug squad:

Det-Insp Steve Smith, head of the Victorian drug taskforce, confirmed the investigation into the high-profile player.

"Yes, we can confirm that the drug taskforce received information and that information was investigated," Det-Insp Smith said.

"But it was not taken any further because the information could not be substantiated and other operational contingencies at the time."

A source close to the AFL star said the investigated player's affinity with drugs "went to another level" when he started dealing.

"He would brag about making $10,000 a week from it," the source said. "He's had scales and cutting equipment just lying around his house. His teammates would just come over and pick it up."

The player would openly use and deal illicit substances during the Spring Racing Carnival, the source said.

"At the spring carny . . . it was rife, just out of control. Two or three times a day, every day ... he'd have it in his pocket and just do it then and there." (Daily Telegraph, 29/8/2007)

Wow. You can see why the AFL and AFLPA are fighting so hard to stop any public scrutiny of this issue. It's a powder keg waiting to blow. I think a lot of footy fans might look away about a few lines here and there. But large-scale dealing like this? We could start to see a big turn-around on this issue.

*** UPDATE ***

Here's the end-of-week wrap-up of the Medical Records Fiasco:

  • The Victorian Supreme Court lives up to it's anachronistic reputation and extends the injunction suppressing further naming of the club involved (despite some 44 publications) and the identities of the various players (described by Eddie McGuire as "an open secret"). It may be reviewed in due course.

  • Interestingly, some of the big names in AFL are openly questioning the AFL's drugs policy and the mis-directed attention on Channel 7, including high-profile coaches Mick Malthouse and Paul Roos, Geelong President Frank Costa and columnist Michelangelo Rucci.

  • The rift between the Seven Network and the AFL players looks to continue, with officials of the players' union calling on an extended ban to continue until an apology is in place. Channel Seven is taking a hit in the ratings over this, though the effects look to be subsiding. Speculation of an apology being hammered out behind the scenes continue, but no word yet.

There's been no shortage of interest in this story, with over 6,000 hits to this page alone since it broke. Nearly all were from people looking to find the names of the players and the club referenced in the medical records. Opinions are very strong too, with the BigFooty forum going berserk. Who knows where this controversial issue will end up?

I must say I'm very impressed with the comments from Paul Roos. I think he gets it:

"I don't think (drug use) is a problem isolated to AFL football but I think the difference is AFL players have to realise that they are held to higher standards than the normal community," he said.

"Some people might argue that's unfair but you won't hear that argument from me.

"You are going to be held to higher standards, that's part of being an AFL player and being a role model.

"If you don't want to accept that, don't try to become an AFL player. That's just the reality of what they do, the reality of their job."

Roos admits he is extremely concerned about the issue, which he feels is escalating every week. (The Age, 31/8/2007)

The remarks from Mick Malthouse were damning of the effects of the current system:

"It's been a bad, bad year for the industry that is trying to convince young people and young sportsmen not to take drugs, hasn't it?" he said.


"The millions and millions that have been spent on `don't use drugs because it is going to do you harm' (campaign) crikey, this year has sent that down the gurgler."

And Matthews believed smarter drug testing was needed in the AFL. (The Age, 31/8/2007)

It's encouraging to see such frank assessments by senior figures being aired publicly. Hopefully, these voices are listened to and the warnings heeded.

*** UPDATE ***

Well, it looks like we can finally put this one to bed. Channel Seven has capitulated to the AFL and the players' union. The Seven Network issued an apology, withdrew from legal action against the court injunction on disclosing the ******** club and kowtowed before the unstoppable juggernaut that is footy in September:

The network, which has been the subject of a boycott from AFL players seeking retribution for running the report, issued a statement saying it regretted the damage caused.

"The Seven Network values the co-operation it receives from AFL players and sincerely regrets any damage which has been caused to our relationship with the players by virtue of a story which was aired on Friday, 24th August," the statement said.

"The network accepts the principle that the confidentiality of private medical records between a medical practitioner and his patients was paramount and critical to the treatment and welfare of a patient.

"The Commercial TV Industry Code of Practice only allows for the broadcasting of such material in any event when there is an identifiable public interest."

The statement said AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou was pleased with the network's decision and hoped the league and its broadcast partner could continue to work strongly together.

The AFL Players' Association (AFLPA) said it was too early to say whether players would call off their boycott against the network. (The Age, 4/9/2007)

When you see the frightening ability of the AFL to silence critics and use all the commercial and legal powers of a ruthless corporation in shutting down unpalatable news stories, you have to wonder if Dylan Howard doesn't have a point when he accuses the AFL of censorship.

No doubt we'll have more to say on this topic later.

Citations: PerthNow, 23/9/2007; RealFooty, 25/8/2007; Brisbane Times, 25/8/2007; Daily Telegraph, 29/8/2007

Word Count: 2115

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  • Welcome back Greg, must be refreshed after a visit to the 'bool, if I understand correctly.

    No doubt this is sad on many levels starting with the fact that young people (in this case footballers) continue to take drugs.

    It is however good to see that they are getting the help they need. It is however extremely sad that there private and confidential Medical Documents are published when they come from dubious sources. I mean, your a smart man Greg, do you really think she found them on the street? Bit of a long shot. And why did she only get around 3000 for them, surely you would think that she could of got a lot more?

    And not sure this actually puts presure on the 3 strikes policy. In fact of anything it shows that the league and the clubs take it every seriously and that the players are getting help, something I am sure you would be happy about, after all you tell us that they are just people not gods or anything like that. They are subject to the same temptations and the likes as the rest of the community.

    Lastly, I thought (but maybe it was else where where it was pointed out) that the Hawks player didn't refuse the test, in fact they didn't even know about the test as they were busy giving a sample to ASAD for the WADA code test (for want of a better way of saying it) and never knew they were choosen.

    I would be interested in you opinion on a couple of thing:
    1) Forgeting the complete situation surrounding this issue, do you agree with 7's choice to publish Private Medical Documents?
    2) Do you think the courts will ban the story?
    3) Whats your gut feel on the location the documents were obtained? Do you believe they were in the gutters (or do you think thats just were Dillon Howard lives)?
    4) If you had of got the documents, would have tried to give them back once, have a chat with your doctor and then sell them to 7 news?

    Will be interested where this goes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 pm, August 25, 2007  

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  • Welcome back to you too, Molly! We haven't been graced with your presence here for a while, either.

    Not sure about your Hawks drug-test info - do you have a link for that? I heard the company just tested another player when the randomly-selected one couldn't "manage".

    But, sure, I'm happy to respond to your questions.

    1) Publishing medical details. Always a tricky one, and I'm not sure I'd come down hard and fast one way or the other.

    Sure, a ban sounds reasonable when you dress it up as a "medical" issue warranting privacy.

    But I'm not convinced that public figures can dodge all scrutiny over anything by slapping the "medical" label on their various problems. Hypothetically, what if a politician was beating his wife? Could he say "oh, it's a medical condition and I'm getting treated for it" and dodge the consequences?

    If we accept that "medical" argument, then "medical" might become a smokescreen for all manner of ills, spanning drugs, violence, sexual irregularities, bizarre religious beliefs and the rest.

    (FWIW, I don't believe that everyone who takes a pill, snorts a line or tokes a spliff has a "medical" problem that automatically deserves the full secrecy of say, cancer or AIDS - despite what some club publicists might prefer.)

    Maybe the broader point is that the AFL has conveniently latched onto the harm minimisation/medical model for its party drugs problem (btw makes sense for junkies - not AFL superstars) and has backed that up with bullying legal enforcement. Perhaps if they had a more open approach, these little media games wouldn't be possible.

    2) Given the ongoing blanket ban on naming and shaming the identities of the three players who tested positive twice last year, I'm pretty sure the present ban will continue. The fact that the cat was already out of the bag doesn't seem to count for much.

    I do wonder why allegations being aired on the national nightly news and the highest-traffic websites in the land don't count as "escape to the public domain" for our aged judiciary. Perhaps if ABC Classic FM ran the story it would count?

    3) I find it very difficult to believe that the most valuable medical records in Australia accidentally ended up in the gutter out the front of the clinic. But then, I've never worked at such a clinic. Hopefully, it will all come out soon.

    4) What would I do with records? Oooh, that's a toughy. Can I mull that over for a bit? All I can say at this point is that I certainly would not have sold them for $3,000, that's for sure!

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:26 am, August 26, 2007  

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  • Greg, thanks for the response.
    I will touch on a couple of things. First, I understand you point on the medical fact, and if this had come out because the players had been caught driving on drugs or somethiing like that, I would agree hiding behind medical arguement would be lame (although it is a medical condition, whether self inducide or not). But in this case the only reason it came to the public is because of the notes between a doctor and their patient where made public so on this occasion, the medical arguement is totally relevant.

    Oh, actually just the one point today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 am, August 26, 2007  

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  • Australia is full of kids, late teens to early 20s, who do drugs. Ecstacy, cocaine, ice, have exploded across society in the last 7-8 years. I don't see footballers drug use as sad, bad or tragic, just inevitable. They used to sink booze, now they sink another drug that won't mess their skinfold tests.

    Like everything else, this will level itself out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 am, August 27, 2007  

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  • I agree about the widespread nature of drug use today and what's more I don't see that as a complete disaster, the way some elderly politicians do.

    My view is that all "the public" (the fans, the AFL, the politicians - whoever) is asking is that footballers stay off the pot, pills and powders for a few years while they're performing at an elite level and in the public eye.

    The average AFL career is less than five years. If you want to write yourself off with drugs, just wait until you're 22. Then go nuts. How hard is that?

    Interesting comparison with the skinfold test, btw. Consider how effective regular, no nonsense, one-strike, public testing is in driving player behaviour in that instance.

    If works to keep them off the pies and piss, it will keep them off the pills too.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:43 pm, August 27, 2007  

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  • Dude, on your update. I think the AFL, AFLPA, Players/Patients and Doctor involved have the right to treat "treating infrequent users of "party drugs" as "medical patients" (or "victims"!)" because the detailed version of details that came out came out of a Doctors Medical Records. Surely this makes them "medical patients"!

    I also find the John Ralph article (you linked to first in the update) mentions that Jeff Kennett says that AFL are soft on drugs. He may have but from everything that I remember him saying have has been supportive of the players getting help and his main beef is that the club isn't informed!

    I would be interested if you have an example of Jeff saying the AFL are soft on drugs. He may have but I can't remember it.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 am, August 28, 2007  

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  • Not really sure what to think about this one anymore. Seven appear to be complicit in theft, or at least, accepting stolen goods.

    On the other hand, I've long been critical of parties that hide behind things like legal privelege, so for the AFL to get on their high horse about doctor-patient confidentiality kinda grates a little.

    Seven are probably going to come out as the losers in this - if you're a player, you're going to think twice about giving interviews, or even saying stuff to Seven personnel off the record. It'll take them a long time to win that trust back again.

    It's a bit like how no umpire will talk to Tony Jones of Channel 9 after the hatchet job he did on them last year.

    One thing's for sure - it takes the heat off Akermanis, doesn't it?

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 12:36 pm, August 28, 2007  

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  • I think things will be strained between them for a little while, but it will blow over in time.

    They need each other. They're locked into an almost-one-billion dollar deal over several years. There's simply too much at stake and their respective boards will make peace sooner or later.

    Still, a bit of sulking, a few more scandals going public, the odd court case ... should be a great show.

    Oh, and I'm not sure about the receiving stolen goods aspect either, as long as Seven has "plausible deniability".

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:46 pm, August 28, 2007  

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  • Not sure about the plausible bit, but Seven should have some deniability.

    Good luck to them.

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 2:10 pm, August 28, 2007  

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  • I think AD's reaction to this is amusing. His outrage at Seven's willingness to publish is hypocracy at it's best. Both seven and ten, as part of their deal, spread the most vile one sided propganda promoting AFL players as heros. AD doesn't have any problem with the positive drivel that comes out everyday in the media about AFL players.
    His consistent and stubborn denial that the drug testing in AFL is a mess is more shocking than seven wanting to publish something that is probably common knowledge around the clubs of Melbourne. Medical records are unfortunately abused all the time by the media, as are many confidential conversations. Big deal. It is one of the abuses of free speech. ( A Pillar of being Australian according to the new citizenship test!!). If the AFL drug policy was not so secretive, there would be no story.
    The fact that these things still happen just demonstrate how absolutely ineffective the drug testing regime is. Probably more importantly, the current regime does not deter those with the propensity to take drugs. Better to let them take drugs and then rehabilitate later. Seems backwards logic. Poor old Aka, who is at least funny and self effacing, has the risk of bringing the game into disrepute, when these players go out and probably do it most weekend nights. That is OK, as long as it is not in the media.
    The AFL and the AFL players union are contributing to the drug problem in the AFL through the ridiculous three strikes policy. It does not act as a block for players to not take drugs, it encourages a roulette mentality. God knows, sportsmen like to bet. The fact that they can get away with it is likley to appeal to their Alpha male competitive streak.
    When will AD be as outraged that players still play roulette with his benign drug policy. When will he say enough is enough and be outraged that there is still a minority of players who take illegal, class A drugs. Tolerance tends not to work. It is always open for abuse by the margins of any community.
    AD needs to earn his money and take some tough choices. May not be popular with the players union, but at least he will not be an apologist for the margins of the AFL player group. He won't do it, doesn't have the courage.

    As for boycotting the Brownlows. Does anyone really care other than the players and the bimbos who they date? The whole thing is the epitome of how the players take themselves so very seriously. It does matter who wins it,that is a great part of the game. The night is so very sad it makes the Ceduna fashion week look classy. Maybe they could replace it re runs of ' The Club'. More realistic about football clubs and a whole lot more entertaining.

    By Blogger Simon, at 11:24 pm, August 28, 2007  

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  • From my reading of it, Andrew Demetriou has nailed his colours to the mast over the current drugs policy. He has backed it to the hilt in the face of sustained criticism from (nearly) all quarters.

    If the policy were to change, he's got so much invested he'd have to go too.

    Given that he's broken the million dollar mark himself, I can't see that happening voluntarily any time soon.

    Instead, we'll see players continue to use drugs while the AFLPA and AFL use every means at their disposal - the police, courts, sacking whistle-blowers - to silence the public and bully the media.

    It will take a severe scandal to dislodge him. I don't think this is the one. Sadly, I think it will take a player's death (suicide, overdose or accident) to force his hand.

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:10 am, August 29, 2007  

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  • Greg, you are probably right. I am not sure of the AFL structure, but are there non-executive directors that can force his hand? It really is getting pathetic. If you wrote a scipt about this no-one would buy it as it is so seemingly implausable. It is also a shame that it seems that the public support the players union. The Age have reported that seven's ratings have dropped. I am sure there are other reasons for the drop, but on the surface, looks like a sad and mis guided reaction.It will be a matter of time before something does happen, probably in the off season. You would hope that sense would prevail, but I guess it is unlikley it will. They will all run for cover if it does. AD makes his money from TV negotiations and appeasement of the players. His vision is both short term and profitable, so I am sure he will survive. I would think it takes more than a million AUD to have blood on your hands, hopefully it will not be a players, but it will possibly it will be a sport.

    By Blogger Simon, at 12:54 am, August 29, 2007  

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  • Surely this matter proves most of your arguments wrong!You have said that the testing won't catch players, yet the reason the medical documents that were stolen are in exisitence are due to the AFL's Drug policy.

    Of course AD is going to support the policy as it is working! The players that have a problem are being given a chance to rehabilitate as they should. That has always been the argument of AD, the AFL and the AFLPA. You must remember that the Drug policy is voluntary.

    The fact that the AFL players are taking drugs is extremely disappointing, but it only proves your point that there human and not gods (right, that is your argument?). They are young men that are at risk at the same level that any other person in society is and of course some of them will make terrible decisions. The fact that their employers (clubs), their Union (AFLPA) and the body that over sees their sport (AFL) all have agreed to try to help them become better people should be applauded not scorned by petty people that are jealous of their success!

    I bet Simon thinks that the Lady and the Guy that allegedly stole the medical records should be given a medical not a jail sentence!

    PS. Greg, don't be dragged to the gutter, a lot of your agrugements on this issue have actually been rather balanced and I congratulate you on that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 am, August 29, 2007  

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  • Just on your last update, the police commisioner said the claim was a load of:
    But Chief Commissioner Nixon said that the player had been cleared of any wrong doing.

    “We determined (that the claims) were not credible and that there was not evidence to substantiate the allegations,” Nixon said.

    I am sure you will add this to your post as I know how you like to be on top of things!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 am, August 29, 2007  

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  • Haha, just read the claim again (on the link): "...he'd have it in his pocket and just do it then and there". Come on, even you would see this as crap! As if an AFL Player could use drugs "then and there" at the spring carnival! Pretty unbelievable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:06 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • No, Molly, I don't see it as crap, nor unbelievable. I'm not sure what clubs and parties you attend, but I occasionally see people brazenly "doing drugs" in public.

    Admittedly, I've not seen this at the Spring Racing Carnival. But then, I'm not in the VIP tents, am I? Who knows what the hell goes on in there?

    These allegation haven't been substantiated, but we can't rule them out entirely on the basis you're suggesting.

    Let's remember that it's beyond dispute that several clubs have players with a sustained interest in drugs.

    Sure, it might seem risky using drugs in the manner alleged. But if you're off your head on coke and so is everyone around you and you've got a massive ego to start with and everyone else's gotten away with it ...

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:28 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • No party I have ever been to have I ever saw a drug in my life (other then tobacco and Alcohol). Perhaps you are better to talk about this issue as you deal with drug takers yourself.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • PS. You forgot to update the post to say the police cleared the player and found nothing to go on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:33 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • I fail to see how catching a few players taking drugs demonstrates how the policy is working. It is difficult to understand. Greg has pointed out how woeful the sample is, but it is a sample, so will catch somebody. It clearly isn't working as a deterrent. No sporting code anywhere seems to have the drug problems the AFL have, and yes they have testing programmes. If those people stole the records they should be prosecuted, but if the AFL were not so secretive about their policy then there would be no story. No-one denies the right for rehabilitation, but since they are public figures it should be public. The witch hunt against seven is bizarre. It will be interesting if the police go ahead and charge somebody at seven with anything. Sure all the media lawyers will be out in force. I would bet my money on them , not the AFL. They are a news organisation and have the right to report what they want. If questionable sources were denied, there would be very little news worth watching. Do you think all of this fuss would be made if it was a celebrity or a politician? Everyone would be jumping on the bandwagon. The AFL and the players association are bullies. They are protecting their own against the interests of the broader community. Rather than address the issue with seven as to why they feel the need to report on these matters, they take their bat and ball and go home. The drug policy will change, but there will be a suitable time gap to save face of those administrators who have pinned their credibility on it working. Who knows when it will change, but eventually something will happen to re think their point of view.
    I haven't the time nor the desire to extrapolate, through looking at the sample and then looking how many people have been caught, to explore how wide spread the drug problem is in the AFL, but I am sure it would be quite a high number. The policy should be there to prevent drug taking while they are AFL players. It is not really doing that. I have said before that no-one's career should be burnt because of a big night out, however, the players should not be allowed to continue to take the piss about the policy. If clubs were to put in the players contracts that testing once is enough for a long suspension then that would be a positive step.

    And Molly, your inference that what I have written is motivated by jealousy is way off the mark. It is a pretty big call given you know nothing about me. I am, however, increasingly frustrated by a culture of tolerence that allows the fringe to exploit the mainstream.The AFL drug policy is an extreme example of the minority dictating to the majority. Many AFL players are quite decent people, and they are being dragged down by the minority, and the administration is too scared to do anything about it.

    By Blogger Simon, at 7:06 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • Actually there is an event that has a bigger drug problem than the AFL. It is the Tour De France. Although the problem is performancing enhancing drugs and not recreational, there are some interesting parallels. Firstly, there was a leaked, probably stolen, report that was sent to L'Equipe that demonstrated how the drug testing at the European drug labs were inadequate and that drug cheating was rife in the Tour. L'Equipe published the report. Interestingly, the riders or the teams did not then go around threatening boycotting, but realised that something has to be done. This is even more exceptional as the Tour does have a very long and distinghuished history of performance enhancing drugs. A few riders have died during the event. They did this as the owners of the event, the people of France, said enough was enough and they wanted the event cleaned up. This has been done with limted and varied success. This year, the race leader and his entire team were disqualified as he had lied about his whereabouts when he was due a drug test. ( He said he was in Mexico, when he was really in Italy). The problem is now taken so seriously, that the organisers of the Tour are seriously debating cancelling next years until they can guarantee to the fans that the event is clean. This is akin to the AFL debating that they should suspend a season until they get their own house in order. The point is that none of this would have happened unless the fans, in the case, the majority of the people in France, demanded something was done.
    It seems that the vast majority of AFL fans want a drug free game, whether they be receational or performance enhancing. The AFL and the AFLPA are showing contemt for people who pay their salaries. The fans own the game, not the administrators and the players. Can you imagine a debate about the suspension of games until the game is cleared up ? The attitude of the players and the AFL shows real contempt for the public. They continue to defend the status quo against what is better for the fans and the game.

    By Blogger Simon, at 8:06 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • They're good points, Simon. But, you know, I'm not so sure that the majority of fans want a drug-free game, if the opinion-leaders at BigFooty are anything to go by.

    And the way people are carrying on you'd think that journos have never broken the law or bent ethics or what have you to get a story.

    Here's some facts to ponder about "leaks" to journalists, this time from federal public servants:

    .. close to 120 separate references to the Federal Police on what it [the Government] calls unauthorised disclosures. Through the leak squad some 32,000 staff hours have been spent trying to track down people who, the Government says, have broken their obligations in terms of revealing information. It has cost nearly $200 000. The number of people prosecuted can be counted on one hand.

    Now, I'm not saying that everyone of these was legitimate, but that's an awful lot of our news coming from unauthorised, illegal or unethical leaks. Should we automatically rule out leaks in future?

    It's worth keeping mind that Channel 7 did not - and I can't stress this enough - did not name the players.

    I urge the hotheads to keep this in mind.

    Think about the hyperbole and superlatives thrown around recently by Andrew Demetriou, Bredon Gale and yes, even Commissioner Nixon. They've gone so far over the top, where could they go had the Seven Network used players' names? Called for the lynching of Seven's staff?

    The way they've carried on, it's no surprise the average person in the street now assumes that players were named.

    I wonder if Seven isn't thinking they should have done it, since everyone seems to think they did it anyway.

    By Blogger Greg, at 10:20 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • Your right, providing the players continue to perform many people won't care. The big footy site is scary. I think the media will begin to turn on the AFL and their spin doctors. It will also be interesting to see what the sponsors do. The AFL seem to be biting the hand that feeds. The media are not good at being blackmailed and threatened. Suspect some of Murdoch's publications may come out fighting fairly soon. Christ knows, they love a leak and will want to protect their way of working. I doubt the injunction will be lifted. In a way it is irrelevant who the players are now. It is much more about the principles at stake.

    By Blogger Simon, at 10:51 pm, August 29, 2007  

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  • You know what, in many ways they named 42 odd players and some of them are going to be right and some of them are going to be innocent!
    To find behind they didn't name the players like now 7 are the ethical gos! Come on, they would have if the thought they wouldn't be pulled off the air if they did!
    Where they amongst the parties fighting to be able to name the 3 players last year? Have they had a change of heart in the last 12 months. I think not. If they didn't have plans to name the players they would have reshot parts of their story and told the asccused theif to not name them when she was being interviewed.

    I am suprised you haven't used the same argument as Neil "Helen Lovegood" mitchell that we need to think about the kids! Perhaps the media should look in the mirror on that front.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:29 am, August 30, 2007  

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  • Actually, I have made the "Helen Lovejoy" argument already, on the BigFooty forum and another blog.

    Neil Mitchell makes a very good point. Footballers are paid a lot to endorse products because it works. Can we really expect pre-pubescent kids to distinguish between:

    "Hey kids, I keep my teeth whiter-than-white with Colgate."


    "When I want to celebrate my success with a party, I use ice."

    Let's drop the ideology and get practical. There is a real effect here and footballers and their supporters cannot just wish it away.

    By Blogger Greg, at 11:45 am, August 30, 2007  

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  • To my knowledge there has only been one or two players (or former players) that admitted to using drugs. It seems to me that the media are the one advertising drugs. Can you show me examples of Players saying drugs are good?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:37 pm, August 30, 2007  

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  • "You haven't lived until you've had a beauty queen snort coke off your dick"

    Attributed to an unnamed All-Australian AFL player.

    Source: The Age Special Investigations Unit's Andrew Rule.

    Sure, it's not court-worthy, but it's evidence nonetheless.

    (I know it's trite, but my initial response - that actions speak louder than words - wasn't as punchy as that quote.)

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:54 pm, August 30, 2007  

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  • You serious? Come on, you can do better then that! What kids clinic did they say that at again?

    Also you said that the AFL is trying to stop the bad news getting out, well how do you explain this:
    where the AFL CEO again (as he always has) mentions the drug problem in the AFL. The AFL have never hidden this, they were the first to have a policy after the did informal tests and found the problem.

    Also Just reading over Simons comments he mentions that no other sports have this problem. Have you ever asked your self way? Its because they don't test for it in the same way the AFL do! If the AFL didn't do these drug tests, they wouldn't have the public drug problem they have now. They would probably have a lot of sick and addicted players, but no public drug problem!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:14 pm, August 30, 2007  

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  • Molly When are you going to get it that the AFL are lie about how stringent their drug testing regime is ? It is by no way the most robust out of the major sporting codes. The NFL, NBA and national baseball league all do out of season testing. It is part of the players contracts and is done by a combination of the clubs and the code. The Premiership football clubs do out of season testing, and their sample is much more robust than the AFL. In all cases it is a clause in their contracts with their employers. The UK clubs have a one strike policy. Interestingly, these codes are now testing for Ice and a new drug called Sextacy, a combination of viagra and ecstacy. They are reviewing their policies to keep up with the technology of the dealers. The AFL still don't test for Ice apparently. Even the NRL policy is stricter. Poor old Andrew Johns got caught with a tab at Kings X in London, but at least he is not playing now.

    By Blogger Simon, at 5:26 pm, August 30, 2007  

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  • Interesting Simon, Interesting. How come all the competitions you mention (bar one that has just started if it has at all) are competitions from around the world and not in Australia? Is it possible because your argument doesn't prove that the AFL policy is lacking, in fact it proves that it is among the best in the world! As the players said on the footy show tonight, if a Cyclist, a runner and AFL player where in the studio and a drug test walked into test each of them, only the AFL player would be tested for Illicit drugs! Thank you very much for proving my argument!

    Now, we are expected to believe that Seven didn't know or suspect the goods might have been stolen or they shouldn't run the documents when not only did they have a proven liar reporting on the story but the source of lie was a setup question given by one of their own people. Meaning that set their own guy up to tell a lie. After that, they tried to cover it up by not showing it in Victoria (and some other places). Then, not thinking that was enough, the reporter went on 3aw and then told a LIAR AGAIN!

    This is who we are meant to be thanking for being our moral consciences! Why aren't you writing this up in a post!


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:24 pm, August 30, 2007  

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  • Didn't think it worth mentioning that Eddie McGuire and John Brumby supported the AFL (seeing we are name dropping).

    Also, it should be noted that Paul Roos is a paid employee of Yahoo7 (if not channel 7) and so his point of view is tainted. As for Malthouse, he is a lose cannon. This is the same guy that once said that there should be one set of rules for good players and a different set of rules for the lesser players. Perhaps that is the Drug policy your after?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:15 am, September 02, 2007  

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  • Molly, I'm sure it's been pointed out to you that the AFLs claim of being the first in Oz with an illicit drugs policy is simply not true. That they had an official, governing body enforced policy is true, while that policy oversaw tests at a rate of far less than 1/player, from memory about 250 tests competition wide in one calender year. At the same time the North Queensland Cowboys NRL side conducted more than 350 tests on 25 players as part of their own in house testing procedures. These tests have been carried out as a matter of course in the NRL for many years. The AFL is about to enter it's "test free" period while NRL players have been warned that they can be tested anywhere, any time over the off-season.

    I'll only bother adressing one more point, because I really have a lot of work I should be doing -

    "Surely this matter proves most of your arguments wrong" - Molly

    Cousins and Kerr, enough said really

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:20 pm, September 04, 2007  

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  • Molly I use overseas examples because the AFL are always claiming it is the most stringent out of all sorts of sports everywhere. The AFL treat their fans like the proverbial mushrooms, keep them in the dark and feed them shit. But providing people still turn up and keep their head in the sand nothing will really change. The only people who can really force change are the fans, but the head in the sand attitude and the constant defence of the status quo means it will take a serious incident to happen before the much needed change to happen. The NRL clubs are much more responsible than the AFL clubs. It is quite funny that AFL players have a test free time. Best in class drug testing- what a laugh

    By Blogger Simon, at 10:35 pm, September 05, 2007  

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