Mr Speed says the use of illicit drugs by players is a well known issue, particularly within the AFL.
Mr Speed says the use of illicit drugs by players is a well known issue, particularly within the AFL. Morne de Klerk / Getty Images

'Aussie sport club medicos might not be reporting drug use'

MEDICAL officers with sports clubs in both major football codes may not be reporting players' illicit drug use to authorities, a Senate inquiry was told on Wednesday.

The Senate inquiry into the practice of sports science in Australia heard from the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports during the hearing.

Coalition executive director Malcolm Speed represented both the National Rugby League and Australian Football League at the inquiry.

He said while both major codes were working on improving accountability in relation to supplements used by players, there were still "grey areas".

Mr Speed said both codes were working to improve accountability and to strengthen rules to include the CEOs and boards of professional sports clubs.

Asked about the use of illicit drugs such as cocaine by players, Mr Speed said it was a known issue, particularly within the AFL.

"The AFL is the one that gets the most attention. AFL players that are found by the police force (to possess illicit drugs) are subject to being charged," he said.

"The AFL policy is a medical based policy rather than a criminal offence based policy."

He said chief medical officers of both leagues were often given confidential information about players who had tested positive to illegal drugs.

But he could not say whether such information, once revealed to the medical officers, was actually passed on to police to investigate.

Committee chair Senator Bill Heffernan asked Mr Speed whether the codes had an unspoken "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding use of illicit drugs.

But Mr Speed said there was no such policy and he did not believe the sports codes ignored the criminal side of drug use by players.

He said the protocol regarding drug use, was more focussed on performance enhancement, rather than illicit drugs.

Representatives from the individual leagues did not attend the committee hearing.

Mr Speed said he was notified on Friday last week by the heads of both the NRL and AFL that they would not be attending, but could not say why.

The inquiry is due to report its findings to parliament on June 27.

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