Andrew Wilkie accused Melbourne Demons evading drug tests with AFL assistance. GETTY IMAGES

Independent member of parliament Andrew Wilkie has accused the Melbourne Football Club of evading drug tests with the help of the Australian Football League (AFL). AFL CEO Andrew Dillon didn't deny Wilkie's allegations.

Andrew Wilkie has used his voice as a Member of Parliament (MP) to speak out about the drug testing problem that has existed in the AFL over the years, particularly in the Melbourne Demons. 

The allegations were made by former Melbourne Football Club president Glen Bartlett, former club doctor Zeeshan Arain, and Shaun Smith, the father of player Joel Smith, who Wilkie said had been accused of drug dealing. 

Wilkie said the players' drug tests at Dorevitch Pathology in Heidelberg, "facilitated by the AFL's former chief medical officer, Peter Harcourt", hadn't been registered. The players who tested positive in the unofficial drug tests were listed as injured or similar so they would not play in the next game and cover up the result to Sport Integrity Australia because it could lead to disqualifications. 

"They are advised to lie about their condition, while the results of the off-the-book tests are kept secret and never shared with Sports Integrity Australia or WADA," Wilkie said. "In other words, hundreds of thousands of Australians will watch the game unaware that the game has been secretly fixed by the AFL."

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon didn't deny the allegations and confirmed there had been irregularities in the league for almost 20 years. He claimed that the inclusion of club doctors in the AFL's illicit drugs policy dates back to 2005. 

"The players' private medical information is private medical information and that's what we put first. If there's any chance that they might have something in their system, we don't want them training and we don't want them playing games," Dillon said. 

The AFL is currently reviewing its illicit drugs policy and aims to have a new framework in place by the end of the year. The league is under WADA restrictions, unlike the American leagues which have their own policies.

The AFL Players' Association reiterated its support for the AFL's stance and pledged to work together with the league to review the policy to maintain best practice, but the former player Shaun Smith, who played for Melbourne Football Club in the 1990s, told his son Joel in the 2010s of a "massive problem in the AFL".

"I was pretty shocked that the AFL would go to such lengths to cover up cocaine use in the game. The employer, which is the AFL and the Melbourne Football Club or any other football club, has a duty of care to make it a safe place to work," Smith said. 

Despite Smith's claim, Barry Rigby, president of the AFL Doctors Association, insisted the primary duty of club doctors "is, and always will be the health and wellbeing of the athletes. 

"The suggestion that this unique privilege has somehow been manipulated is simply not true. Such comments are disappointing and represent a distortion of a process designed to support player welfare," Dr. Rigby stressed.

Melbourne Football Club coach Simon Goodwin, who has been with the club since 2014, said he was unaware of any such behaviour at the club. "It's news to me. I think it's a surprise to everyone in the industry because for me as a head coach there's no line of sight. I have enormous confidence in our doctors, so I'm not going to question how they do their job," said Goodwin.

The Melbourne club has had its fair share of sackings in recent years. Dr. Arain was fired in 2020 after raising concerns about the club's culture, while Bartlett resigned as club president in 2021 and is now suing the club in the Federal Court of Australia.

Wilkie raised the issue a second time in Parliament on Wednesday, calling on Premier Anthony Albanese to review documents he had received. Albanese responded to allegations of government involvement in covering up an alleged drug problem in the AFL.

"My job is not to control the Australian Football League, but when issues are raised, the Sport Integrity Australia is aware of them and they have begun their assessment," Albanese pointed out. Sport Integrity Australia said it had begun assessing Wilkie's allegations but declined to comment further.