AFL drugs claims aired in Australian parliament

Allegations by former club doctor could have major impact

THE AFL is embroiled in a sensational illicit drugs scandal which could have major repercussions for the game.

Dr Zeeshan Arain, a former Melbourne Football Club doctor has rocked Australian rules football by revealing that he was authorised by the AFL to conduct clandestine drug tests to help players dodge detection on game day.

The doctor also claimed that players were advised to “fake injuries” to avoid being tested for World Anti-Doping Agency Code violations.

Federal MP Andrew Wilkie revealed the bombshell news in the Australian parliament as well as announcing that he had received a signed statement from Dr Arain.

“I rise to bring the house’s attention to 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 alleged drug trafficker Joel Smith),” Mr Wilkie said in an electrifying address.

“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 (Melbourne)...

“Such appalling behaviour endangers the life, safety and future of players and officials, subverts the official drug testing conducted by Sports Integrity Australia on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Authority.

“This is not conjecture, with Dr Arain describing the matter clearly in this signed statement where he states that, and I’ll quote Dr Arain: The off-the-books testing took place at Heidelberg Dorevitch Pathology. The former chief health officer of the AFL Peter Harcourt gave me the contact of the guy at Heidelberg who would do the testing.”

Dr Arain was sacked by the Demons in October 2020 but received a significant settlement after pursuing a case of unlawful dismissal.

Mr Bartlett also left Melbourne in acrimonious circumstances shortly after raising concerns about alleged drug use among the players in 2021.

In other news, the Brisbane Lions have lamented the loss of Tyrone Sam Maguire winner Conor McKenna as their missing X-Factor this season. Last year’s premiership runners-up are winless so far this season and will host reigning premiers Collingwood, who are also without a win, in a Grand Final rematch on Thursday.

McKenna missed the opening round of the season following a pre-season hamstring injury and in his comeback game away to the Fremantle Dockers in Perth on March 17, the Eglish clubman was unable to complete the four quarters after reinjuring the same hamstring.

At this stage the Tyrone Sam Maguire winner is expected to miss another three matches.

“You look at last year and the stability of the back six, seven, eight players that rolled through there was quite strong through the whole season and as a team there weren’t many injuries last year,” Brisbane’s backline coach Dale Morris explained.

“This year we’ve already copped a few and they’re at the back end of the ground.

“It is hard to fill the void of the players that have gone down, the likes of Kiddy Coleman and Conor McKenna provide that X-factor in the back six with their ability to move the ball and read the game.

“They’re definitely hard to replace but we’ve got some really good depth that can come in and fill that void and make the most of that opportunity in front of them.”