'Staggered' Malthouse condemns AFL over drug response

‘Staggered’ Malthouse condemns AFL over drug response

Mick Malthouse has delivered a passionate plea to the AFL to implement harsher penalties for illicit drug use following an allegation in federal parliament.

In one of the biggest bombshells in the sport’s history, federal MP Andrew Wilkie revealed discussions with a former Melbourne Demons doctor, claiming that off-the-books drug testing had been implemented at the club.

Players were reportedly told to “fake an injury” in order to cheat the system. AFL boss Andrew Dillon responded on Wednesday, failing to deny the allegations and claiming it was “private medical information” between a doctor and player.

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Speaking on Nine’s A Current Affair, Malthouse, a former Collingwood coach, expressed his disbelief regarding the allegations and the AFL’s response.

“I’m staggered and I’m so disappointed … this is a great game, this is a game that should go forwards and not backwards,” Malthouse said.

“That [AFL response] is a kick in the teeth, more so than the bombshell itself. I just can’t come to grips that all club doctors are part of it, the AFL hierarchy have been part of it. Coaches, and certainly the ones I’ve spoken to, we are left in the dark. 

“I reckon there will be a lot of sponsorship in question and a lot of people will be sitting back and saying this is not a good image. If they are fair dinkum, some of these sponsors, they will be thinking that our product and AFL don’t mix.

“I might be just a 70-year-old dinosaur, but there’s a lot of 70-year-old dinosaurs out there who watch the game and they feel as though they have been cheated. What they want is a transparency that sees their side run down the race

“I could categorically, hand on heart – although I have to question myself a bit now – say that I knew why every player missed a game of football.”

In a coaching career that spanned across four different decades, Malthouse oversaw two premiership victories at West Coast in the 1990s, before taking the Magpies to a title in 2010 towards the end of his tenure at the club.

The 70-year-old called for the AFL to crack down on the use of illicit drugs within the sport in a bid to clean up the game on and off the field.

“I’m very harsh on this – if things are illegal, they are illegal,” Malthouse said.

“If a doctor reports that he has been on illegal drugs of any description, then the player is suspended immediately and goes into rehab until such time where we can help that player overcome. The second time, he’s out for a couple of years – make no mistake about it. Third time, he’s banned.

“Unless you make it a heavy-handed penalty, we’re always gonna have a little slap on the wrist. You’ve got to be a lot harsher and the penalties greater.”

Malthouse’s comments were echoed by former Essendon star Matthew Lloyd, who denied the presence of illicit substances during his own playing career.

“I wasn’t aware of this – we’d go out and have plenty of alcoholic drinks, but drugs weren’t really an issue at that time,” he said.

“That’s a society thing as well, drugs are the biggest problem currently in the AFL.

“We need to be far stronger … the repercussions just aren’t strong enough.”

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