The AFL welcomes the findings of the Sport Integrity Australia review relating to the AFL's Illicit Drug Policy and the claims made under Parliamentary privilege by Senator Andrew Wilkie MP.

The AFL has welcomed the assessment that found there was no breach of the WADA Code and that SIA found no evidence to suggest players feigned injuries to cover up for positive drug tests.

In its assessment, SIA found:

  • Based on information available to SIA it concluded there were NO breaches of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) through any Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVS) by AFL players or support personnel. 
  • WADA has advised SIA that it supports SIA's conclusion there were NO breaches of the WADC.
  • As a signatory to the WADC, the AFL has mandatory obligations around anti-doping education. While the AFL does have a current Anti-Doping Education Plan, SIA has identified a need for the AFL's to enhance its education program to all levels of the game.
  • SIA concluded that there are NO irreconcilable inconsistencies between the AFL's Illicit Drugs Policy and the National Anti-Doping Scheme.


The AFL also welcomes SIA's assessment that "found no evidence to suggest testing by the AFL or club doctors was in breach of the WADA Code, or that injuries were feigned to cover up for positive drug testing during the week by the AFL or club doctors".   SIA also found that "most players adhere to the AFL's Illicit Drugs Policy and intervention model in good faith, however some players will and do find ways to get around the system and while this is not ideal, no policy or process is without weaknesses."

The AFL welcomes SIA's acknowledgement that the AFL is one of the few sports that has an illicit drug policy and that the AFL Illicit Drug policy was aligned to the harm minimisation principles which are a key plank of the Coalition of Australian Government's (COAG's) National Drug Strategy.

SIA also acknowledged that the AFL Illicit Drug policy operated in addition to the WADA Code that applies to all Australian professional and Olympic athletes.  While there has been considerable conflation and confusion of the two codes, the AFL welcomes SIA's finding that there was NO irreconcilable inconsistencies between the AFL's Illicit Drugs Policy and the National Anti-Doping Scheme.

The SIA report also notes most Australian professional and Olympic sports rely solely on the WADA Anti-Doping code and the AFL is one of only a handful of sports that runs a competition-wide policy that seeks to intervene with players found (through AFL hair and or urine testing) to use illicit drugs out of competition.

The SIA assessment also made a number of recommendations – particularly around expanding testing to the AFLW competition, increasing the level of education and awareness at AFL clubs and in the pathway system, for independent oversight of the operation of the policy, continued expansion of the intelligence capability to guard against potential integrity risks, and developing a strategy for addressing illicit drug use by non-players. 

SIA's recommendations will be considered as part of the current review of the AFL's Illicit Drug Policy.

The SIA assessment also raised for consideration the holding of an annual event or national roundtable where relevant stakeholders across the sporting sector have the opportunity to get together to discuss how they were dealing with illicit drugs issues through their policies, processes and education.  SIA observed that sports could network and discuss the different models and principles that underpin their illicit drug policies and programs and the pros and cons of each and in that forum SIA could share integrity threat information and discuss integrity capability and resourcing, and education and training needs and experts (including health and medical) could be consulted through the event. 

The AFL supports this initiative suggested by SIA and will raise it for consideration with some of the other major professional sports this week with a view to hosting the inaugural national roundtable in the next 12 months if there is broader support for that initiative.

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon thanked SIA CEO David Sharpe and his team for their assessment of the allegations and said: "We said from the outset that the allegations raised in Parliament did not reflect either the intent or operation of the Illicit Drug policy and we welcome the findings of Australia's sport integrity agency that found zero evidence to support the claims."

"We take the integrity of our sport extremely seriously.  It is important to reinforce the point that we do not in any way condone illicit drug use but we accept that we have a responsibility as a code to try and change behaviours of those that do make the mistake of trying/using illicit drugs.

"Our AFL Illicit Drugs policy is unashamedly based on a health and safety model, in line with Government and medical policies and consistent with the 2017-2026 National Drug Strategy agreed with all Federal, State and Territory Governments. It is a policy that has helped many players that have had a substance problem to change their behaviours and it is a policy that will continue to evolve to deal with a societal issue.

"We also accept SIA's assessment that there is room for improvement – both in education of players and staff – and in the operation of the policy itself which is currently under review by the AFL and the AFLPA with a view to updating the policy ahead of the 2025 AFL season. 

"We understand that substance abuse happens across the Australian community with the National Drug Strategy Household survey finding that 47% of all Australians or 10.1 million Australians over the age of 14 used illicit drugs in their lifetime and we understand that Australian professional sporting and Olympic athletes – including AFL players - are not immune from this. 

"The extent of the problem in our community is why the AFL and the AFLPA have taken a leadership position as have our players in volunteering to be part of an illicit drug response that few other professional and Olympic sports currently undertakes."

"SIA has suggested a national roundtable bringing together Australian professional and Olympic sports with Government, medical, law enforcement and education to discuss how sports should approach illicit drugs out-of-competition and the AFL would supports a national discussion on this topic.

"Given the national interest in this topic and the clear confusion about the two separate drug codes, the AFL thinks there is an opportunity to have a national discussion with all professional and Olympic sporting codes, the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport and its state-run equivalents, that should be led by Sport Integrity Australia and the experts who administer the National Drug Strategy," Mr Dillon said.

"We thank Sport Integrity Australia for overseeing our current education plan. Once the revised policy is finalised we will work closely with SIA in building greater awareness, education and transparency of the two policies to players at all levels of the game as well as key staff across the AFL industry as well as for Board members."

Click here to view the SIA assessment.