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AFL 2012 Media - AFL Media Conference 301112

Dr Rob Aughey says Andrew Demetriou should not leap to judgement on sports scientists

It's about making sure we all engage in ethical behaviour whether we are doctors, physios, coaches or athletes
UNETHICAL behaviour should be the target of AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, not sports science according to the head of the AFL Sports Science Association.

Asked to respond to another attack on the role from AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou on Thursday, Dr Rob Aughey said that everyone within the industry has a responsibility to engage in ethical behaviour, indicating it was unfair for the sports science profession to be singled out because of the investigation into Essendon.

"It's not about a title, it's not about regulation as such although we welcome that," Aughey said. "It's about making sure we all engage in ethical behaviour whether we are doctors, physios, coaches or athletes."

Demetriou told the media on Thursday the AFL was "going to rid the competition of any insidious, potential lunatic sports scientists that think they're going to come in and impugn the reputation of some very, very fine people."

After concerns were raised last year about a perceived diminishing of the doctor's role at some clubs, the AFL sat down with representatives of sports scientists, physiotherapists and medical personnel and developed a best practice framework.

One of the protocols agreed to was that "when a decision on the medical fitness of an athlete to train or play is required, the club medical officer (doctor) hassole responsibility and final authority on the decision."

Aughey said the AFL Sports Science Association was working towards a short-term solution of having its members sign the best practice framework and agree to adhere to its protocols.

He said it was a small step to indicate everyone in the industry was on the same page.

Aughey said that although it was supportive of efforts to create an accreditation process for sports scientists, it was a long-term objective that would not necessarily solve the problem of unethical behavior anyway.  

Those in the Association consider leadership and governance at clubs to be vitally important in ensuring best practice is maintained with many clubs having a sports science committee that includes coaches, doctors and high performance managers to evaluate any innovation.

The AFL Sports Science Association left no-one in any doubt it hoped to remove anyone engaging in activity that was outside both the rules and the spirit of the game when it met in February.