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Sports scientists must be accredited: Nisbett

Nathan Schmook  February 8, 2013 2:21 PM

Australian sport engulfed in drug scandal Report reveals drugs use and criminal links rife in sport
Coaches go through accreditation courses ... the same thing should apply for fitness coaches and others
WEST Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett has backed the AFL's emergency measures in the war on performance enhancing drugs, calling for all club sports science professionals to be accredited under an AFL program.

Following an emergency AFL commission meeting on Thursday night, the League will implement a series of measures to combat what has been described as "widespread" use of banned substances in Australian sport.   

One of those steps will be "enhanced registration and detailed background checks of football club employees, including sub-contractors".

Nisbett, who described West Coast as "one of the major advocates" of clean sport, said thorough background checks for club staff, including sports scientists, were vital.    

"There's no doubt that we should be looking at an accreditation system for anyone who's coming into your footy club who is going to be dealing with players," Nisbett said on Friday.  

"Coaches go through accreditation courses, and there wouldn't be too many coaches coaching in AFL football that haven't been through a number of courses to make sure they're up to speed.    
"The same thing should apply for fitness coaches and others.

"I think that people should have credibility when they work in any organisation … we check the credibility of our staff members before they work with us.

"All of those things, we would think, are normal in a well-run organisation."

Former Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank and fitness guru Dean Robinson, who has been stood down by the club, will be central to an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation into the Bombers.

Nisbett said sports science had always been prominent in the AFL, but self-promotion in the industry had tarnished the practice in recent years.  

"Sports scientists are no different to most of the people that work in the footy club," Nisbett said.  

"It's probably been to the forefront the last few years because there's been a lot of self-promotion by some of the sports scientists.

"Their role is to get the athletes right, get them in tip top shape and get them out on the field.

"That self-promotion hasn't been good in my view."

All club presidents, chief executives, football managers and senior coaches will be briefed by the AFL on the measures being taken following the Australian Crime Commission report and Nisbett said he had full faith in the direction the League would take.

He labeled the developments "devastating for sport in Australia" and said it was an issue that had to be addressed immediately.

"We've had an illicit drugs problem several years ago, we dealt with it and we're relying on our players and our staff to have the utmost credibility and integrity," he said.  

"We've made sure our players are not only well-versed in illicit drugs but they understand their obligations to the code.

"They have a very, very big obligation to make sure football as a sport is at the forefront of the kids growing up. They follow them, they idolise them, so they need to get things right.

"Hopefully - and I say this with all sincerity - hopefully there won't be a lot of issues that come out of the investigations for AFL footy.

"But I wouldn't say there isn't going to be some."

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan