MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin has vehemently denied accusations that he uses illicit drugs while also revealing he has been too angry and frustrated to speak with Joel Smith since the utility returned a positive test for cocaine.
The Demons have been under the microscope in recent weeks following trade speculation surrounding Clayton Oliver as well as the star midfielder's personal issues, plus the positive illicit drugs test for Smith.
Goodwin has also been the subject of innuendo that he has used illicit drugs. Club CEO Gary Pert confirmed on Tuesday that he had led an investigation into rumours that Goodwin had used illicit substances while at a gathering with players at a Mornington Peninsula venue in 2020, but that the club found the story was unsubstantiated.
When asked directly on SEN on Tuesday morning if he uses illicit drugs, Goodwin replied: "Never".
"And I've said this over a three-year period now and it's pretty ordinary that I'm actually sitting in this position and having to justify that situation," he said.
"I know where it happened in terms of a rumour from down in the Mornington Peninsula where it was clearly going around.
"That for me was really concerning and bizarre at the time. It then led to an allegation. An allegation that was fully investigated by Gary Pert and the club about what that might've looked like – and there was nothing in it.
"I do not use illicit drugs. I give everything I can to my family and my team in a way that dedicates my life to my football club and to have this play out over three years where my reputation has been caught up in a board room battle.
"It has been documented over and over and over again in the public and it's been really hard for myself, my family and enough is enough. I don't use illicit drugs and I never will.
"When it's such a sustained period of time and there's no fact to the rumour, it is really tough on your family.
"I certainly don't condone illicit drugs and it has been widely accused that I have a behaviour and lifestyle that's just not acceptable.
"Do I enjoy having a beer and a punt and a glass of wine with mates? Of course I do. I'm a pretty straightforward type of guy, but I live my life in a way that is a dedicated approach to my career and my football club and my family.
"The rumours have to stop. It's gone way out of control from a board room battle into court documents into republication and rehashing of a story over and over again to the extent where it's become a fact, which is just not fair and it's gone from a rumour, to an allegation, to a fact and it has got to stop.
"I've had enough and I think as an industry we need to be better than what we are today. We're starting to really hurt people in this game too much through this period of time."
Pert, who sent a detailed email to members on Monday night that addressed the Goodwin, Oliver and Smith situations, echoed Goodwin's frustration at the rumours.
"I'm disgusted with what has played out over the last three years," Pert said.
"Three years ago there were rumours going around, and like we do with other rumours, we checked them out and we take them the full length to establish whether we have any issues. For three years now I've been saying that this has been fully investigated.
"Every single person who is spreading this rumour at the time I spoke to and all of them said the same thing – 'well I'm only passing on what I got told by someone else'. So I'd go back through the chain and took it all the way back to what seemed to be where it started from.
"The one or two people where it started from all said, 'we haven’t referred to drugs', they were referring to the fact that Simon was down at the Mornington Peninsula at the Sorrento Hotel with some of our senior players. They were living there at the time because we were training at Casey Fields and they were having a beer and a bet on the races and that's literally where it got to.
"Now, I've made it very clear publicly for three years, and I presented that to the board at the time when I said I would investigate it. Glen Bartlett, who was the head of the board, the rest of the board signed off on that and accepted that there was no further action required.
"There's been no new information, there's been no new people come forward, so nothing has changed in that period of time and it's really been disgusting to watch it play out and I've felt really quite helpless to watch Goodwin go through this. The whole family has had to wear these constant attacks and it's something that's got to stop.
"There's been no facts, there's been no merit, there's been no substance at any stage. I've never seen rumours flare up like this for years."
Goodwin revealed on Tuesday that his anger and frustration at Smith's positive test means he is yet to speak to the 27-year-old about the incident.
Smith has been provisionally suspended from the Demons' football program while Sport Integrity Australia, with the support of the AFL, investigates.
"I can only go by how I feel. When I first heard, I was incredibly angry and frustrated," Goodwin said of Smith's positive test result.
"To think that potentially we've got a player in Round 23, on the eve of a finals series, not doing everything possible to help the success of our footy team.
"I can only imagine that same feeling would be permeating through our supporter base.
"I haven't spoken to Joel - I'm going to let the process play out - because I've got a level of anger and frustration towards it.
"There are the right people that are talking to Joel from a welfare perspective, and working really closely with him around that.
"Where I sit right now (is) I've got a little bit of frustration because of everything we've just been speaking about - the behaviours and the culture of our footy club, what we were embarking on into this season - to potentially being in this situation.
"I’ve got a bit of anger towards it."
Goodwin added that Smith has not made contact with him since the incident.
In the wake of the Oliver and Smith situations, Goodwin and Pert both denied the club has a deeper issue with its culture.
"We haven't got a cultural problem," Goodwin said. "We've got some isolated incidents that we are going to deal with to drive our culture forward.
"For 10 years now, we've worked on building a high-performing culture. We've made decisions in and around our footy club for a long period of time to build the best footy club we can to perform at the highest level, to the extent that we won a premiership in 2021, top four the last couple of years.
"As we sit here, we've got some isolated incidents that, together, make it look like we've got some trouble at our footy club. But we haven't got the trouble that people think we've got.
"We're going to use the opportunity of these isolated incidents that we're dealing with to continue to grow and enhance that."