AFL to go in hard to curb drug use

AFL clubs will have their staff audited, sports science staff registered and be instructed to undertake mandatory reporting of any doping issue in an attempt to stamp out widespread illegal drug use across the league.

The AFL will also establish an outlet for whistleblowers and have called delegates from all 18 clubs to meet regularly with league officials from next week.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said on Thursday night that the league was determined to do whatever it could to eliminate drug use, match-fixing or links to organised crime.

The latest response follows the release of a report from the Australian Crime Commission, which exposed widespread criminal activity within Australian professional sport.

It comes just days after the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority launched an investigation into the use of supplements among Essendon players last year.

Demetriou said the AFL and National Rugby League were two sports that understood they needed to do more following the release of the ACC report. The AFL Commission called an emergency meeting after the report was released to discuss what action the league could take.

Demetriou said the league could not divulge how many clubs and players might be suspected of illegal activity because of confidentiality clauses in the ACC report. But he warned anyone pushing the boundaries of fairness to watch out.

''There will be people at all of our clubs, working at all different levels, which would include players, that would have had a wake-up call,'' he said. ''They will be sitting there today thinking 'what should I do?' And it's a very good question.

''If you are out there and you think that you can run the gauntlet of cheating in this system, whether it be to do with the salary cap, the use of performance-enhancing drugs, gambling, make no mistake - you will be caught.

''After today make absolutely no mistake - you will be caught.''

Demetriou said as part of the AFL's attempt to weed out the ''scientists and peddlers'' who pushed the boundaries of fairness when it came to supplements, all clubs would have to report exactly what substances their players took and who was issuing them.

Despite admitting to fears of illegal activity within clubs, Demetriou defended the AFL's history on drug-testing players, as he said the ACC report outlined it was impossible to detect some substances that sports science staff were experimenting with.

He would not divulge the sort of sanctions players, clubs or staff could be hit with if found to be cheating, but referred to the World Anti-Doping Authority code, which sets mandatory two-year bans for athletes found to have banned substances in their system. He also indicated the AFL could charge offenders with bringing the game into disrepute.

Demetriou also refused to outline whether the AFL had put in place contingency plans for the 2013 season if large numbers of Essendon players were found guilty of taking banned substances. He said the joint ASADA-AFL investigation had to run its course. The Bombers kick off the NAB Cup on Friday week.

The AFL is also expected to urge state governments to share information with the league on drug use and club links to criminal activity and to legislate against the practices, as Victoria has on the issue of tanking games.

Demetriou, with AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick seated beside him, urged fans not to lose faith in the sport despite this week's revelations, which he admitted ''disappointed, angered and dismayed'' him.

But he warned of the implications of what has occurred in sports overseas, when fans felt they were being dudded.

''People want to see sport at its purest. When they start to doubt whether athletes are performing purely it can be a long way back,'' he said.

The story AFL to go in hard to curb drug use first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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