Andrew Dillon.
Andrew Dillon isn't that interested in reading documents about alleged illicit drug use in the AFL. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

AFL won’t seek out Wilkie drug documents: Dillon

Steve Larkin April 3, 2024

The AFL won’t examine documents alleging widespread drug use and a secret testing regime in the sport, the league’s chief executive Andrew Dillon says.

Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) is investigating claims about secretive illicit drug tests in the AFL raised under parliamentary privilege by federal MP Andrew Wilkie.

Wilkie told parliament last week he had documents alleging widespread drug use at the Melbourne club and also detailing a league-wide secret testing regime.

Wilkie said the documents came from the Demons’ former club doctor Zeeshan Arain and ex-president Glen Bartlett.

Despite the ensuing furore, the AFL’s Dillon says he hasn’t read the Wilkie documents.

“No, I haven’t seen them,” Dillon told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Asked if would like to, Dillion replied: “I heard what Andrew had to say.

“I’m not sure they (the documents) will necessarily add a great deal.

“The doctor that was there, he has been out of the game for four years. Glen Bartlett served Melbourne very well for a period of a time.”

Andrew Wilkie.
 Andrew Wilkie during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

The Wilkie documents revealed a secretive so-called ‘off the books’ regime where players were tested for illicit drugs mid-week by club doctors.

If testing positive, doctors told the player in some cases to fake an injury and not play the next weekend to avoid the risk of a positive match-day test.

Dillion last week said the AFL was “unapologetic” about the practice, which prompted surprise from many coaches and players that it existed.

The AFL runs its own illicit drugs policy in addition to falling under the World Anti-Doping Authority code, enforced by in Australia by SIA.

The AFL is currently reviewing its illicit drugs policy introduced in 2005.

“The illicit drugs policy has been in place for 19 years, it has served our game really well,” Dillon said.

“It has looked after a number of players, it continues to serve us well.

“We are reviewing the policy. It needs to be cutting edge, it needs to be fit for purpose for 2024 and beyond.

“I think informed debate is good as well, and the more informed debate we have the better.”

Alastair Clarkson.
 Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson on the boundary during a recent clash. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson said there was “always going to be criticism” of the illicit drugs policy because it prioritised player welfare.

“But the intent of the league and of the (AFL) Players Association and the medical group has always been first class, so all I would say is just let’s back those people in,” he said.

“They know they’ve probably got to look at the policy and work out what they can do to make it better.

“It’s an ongoing review, really, but I’m sure the medical fraternity the Players Association and the AFL will make what tweaks are necessary to make it a really sound policy.”