Victoria Increases COVID-19 Testing As Government Considers Easing Coronavirus Lockdown Restrictions
Victoria Increases COVID-19 Testing As Government Considers Easing Coronavirus Lockdown Restrictions

AFL’s ‘hypocritical’ drug testing call under fire

Drug testers will not have to be tested for COVID-19 before they assess AFL players in a move a Brownlow medallist has declared to be "bizarrely hypocritical nonsense" and "downright negligent".

It emerged yesterday that while players and club officials having contact with players are forced to undergo twice-weekly testing for the coronavirus and follow strict social distancing measures, ASADA drug testers who attend clubs and the Queensland quarantine hub to test for performance-enhancing drugs will not be subjected to the same measures.

The league will today send a memo to clubs saying that it had consulted medical staff and that it considered that the risk was low.

Three-time All-Australian, 1988 Brownlow winner and Fox Footy expert Gerard Healy lashed the situation given the conditions players and officials are enduring to comply.

"There is nothing more bizarre and downright negligent from a government authority than the behaviour, it seems, of ASADA," he said on 3AW.

"The AFL are spending millions of dollars in complying with the government's chief health officer's demands to create isolation hubs to protect players from possible infection. Players themselves have accepted onerous living conditions to get the game underway.

AFL players at Marvel Stadium for their drive-through coronavirus test before training began. Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin was one of hundreds of players tested at the pop-up clinic. Picture: Alex Coppel
AFL players at Marvel Stadium for their drive-through coronavirus test before training began. Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin was one of hundreds of players tested at the pop-up clinic. Picture: Alex Coppel

"But at the same time, the government body is sending ASADA testing operatives into the hubs to test players for drugs but they themselves haven't been tested for coronavirus. It seems bizarre.

"In trying to keep the game drug-free, they could infect players in the hubs and seriously disrupt the season. Ironically, the government body that's in existence to keep the sport clean could in fact bring it down with its own lack of coronavirus hygiene."

 

 

The league - as a signatory to the ASADA and WADA codes - cannot prevent testers from entering clubs, nor force them to be tested for the virus, as is consistent across all codes.

Testers, while in proximity to players during the process, wear face masks and sign documentation that they have not been in contact with any returned travellers from overseas or anyone confirmed to have the virus.

Clubs are not permitted to let anyone in other than those approved under AFL guidelines, meaning allowing untested ASADA officials inside the fence — such as that at Collingwood — would go against the strict protocols in place. Picture: AAP Image
Clubs are not permitted to let anyone in other than those approved under AFL guidelines, meaning allowing untested ASADA officials inside the fence — such as that at Collingwood — would go against the strict protocols in place. Picture: AAP Image

In a meeting with clubs yesterday, the league affirmed to clubs that while it had no authority to compel testing, ASADA would be screening its officers and said last night that it considered the risk to be "small".

"Given the testers won't be in close contact with players for a long period and they are screened by ASADA (with a temperature check) and screened by clubs with a temperature check, it was considered a small risk," an AFL spokesman said.

Two members of ASADA's Canberra office - who were not from the testing team - tested positive for COVID-19 in March. Neither had had any contact with athletes and had immediately isolated.

 

Originally published as AFL's 'hypocritical' drug testing call under fire


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