AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the AFL had been examining its guiding principles around the AFL Anti Doping Code through the course of the 2013 season, in the wake of the Australian Crime Commission Report into Sport earlier this year.
The AFL Commission had previously stated it would introduce stricter guidelines around the Supplements and Treatments that would be allowed to be used on AFL Players, as well as professionals allowed to conduct any Treatments on AFL Players, and ASADA and the AFL Commission had now each approved of these guidelines, Mr Dillon said.
The AFL had also again examined a number of its key rules around ‘prejudicial conduct’ and the requirements for the registration of all staff and officials around match-day access to venues.
Mr Dillon said the clubs were notified that all uses of supplements and any treatment for players will broadly cover three areas - AFL Prohibited Treatment List, AFL Controlled Treatment List and AFL Prohibited Provider List - to set out what players, clubs and officials may and may not do around the treatment of players and the use of supplements to prepare for AFL Competition.
"The AFL Commission has approved new guidelines to reinforce standards above that of the WADA Code's already high levels of regulation, and ASADA has indicated its support of our moves to further strengthen the integrity provisions within our game," Mr Dillon said.
“The AFL does not want Clubs to pursue a pharmacological advantage over one another or test the limits of the WADA prohibited list.
“The changes to the Code reflect this approach and also the need for greater monitoring by the AFL and accountability of Clubs, officials and players.
"The increasing evidence for our game is that there is a significant ongoing risk to the AFL competition of new and emerging performance enhancement initiatives and it is necessary for the AFL to increase the formal controls around the existing WADA code," he said.
The major changes to the Code are:
- new AFL Treatment Rules will govern supplementation and medical treatments for players above and beyond the requirements of the WADA Code;
- AFL Treatment Rules establish the concept of Controlled Treatments and Prohibited Treatments;
Controlled Treatments may be used, but must be approved by the Club Doctor and recorded in a register made available to the AFL;
- Prohibited treatments may not be used under any circumstances;
- The AFL will develop the Controlled Treatments List and an AFL Prohibited Treatments List in close consultation with Clubs, AFLPA and other stakeholders and these lists will be subject of regular review;
- no substance is to be administered to any player by injection other than by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner and only to the extent it is necessary to treat a legitimate medical condition. No person may possess needles or injectables other than the Club Medical Officer;
- Clubs will have obligations with respect to proper storage and inventory of treatments on their premises;
- persons must report approaches or invitations to breach the Code or any knowledge of potential breaches.
The AFL has established an industry group to assist it advise the AFL on the ongoing work required in this area, comprising Dr Peter Harcourt (AFL Medical Director), Dr Peter Baquie (Medical Officer, Collingwood FC), Kylie Andrew (Sports Dietitian, Richmond FC), Dr Andrew Potter (Medical Officer, Adelaide Crows FC), Dr Tim Barbour (Medical Officer, St Kilda FC), Robert Aughey (President, AFL Sports Science Association), Michelle Cort (Dietician, Geelong Cats FC), David Buttifant (High Performance Manager, Carlton FC), Dr Andrew Daff (AFLPA Advisory Board), Dr Mark Fisher (Medical Officer, Port Adelaide FC), Dr Anik Shawdon (AFL Talent Pathway Medical Officer).
Mr Dillon said the policy aimed to explicitly distinguish acceptable nutritional substances and treatments from potentially dangerous supplements and performance-enhancing materials.
"The AFL is seeking to ensure there is no ambiguity regarding prohibited supplements and compliant nutritional programs," Mr Dillon said.
"We seek to ensure there is a reduced risk for decison-making error by players, officials or clubs around supplement use and to build on the standard ethical and professional conduct requirements to better manage player safety in AFL clubs," he said.
Separately, as part of its annual examination of the rules, the AFL has re-written the definition of ‘Performing On One’s Merits’ under Rule 29, to read as follows: ‘To Perform on one’s Merits: means at all times to perform honestly and to the best of one’s ability in the pursuit only of legitimate competitive objectives. For the avoidance of doubt “legitimate competitive objective” includes the development of the team or players or management of player fatigue or injuries but does not include improving a Club’s draft position, improving a Club’s position with respect to a potential Player exchange or manipulating a Club’s position on the ladder for the purpose of improving its draw within the Finals Series.
Rule 30, relating to the registration of Club Officials, has been broadened to cover all employees, directors and agents of a Club and provide for more stringent requirements in relation to these matters. The AFL Commission has approved investment in an upgraded technology system to implement the enhanced registration requirements and this will be implemented during the pre-season period.
In order to implement and enforce the changes to the Code and AFL Rules outlined, Mr Dillon said the AFL has restructured and significantly bolstered its Competition Integrity department, after approval from the AFL Commission. Three further staff will soon be added, comprising two investigators and one administrative staffer. The bolstered Competition Integrity department has been removed from Football Operations and now sits within the broader Legal, Integrity and Compliance area alongside the AFL legal department.