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Club statement: Keeffe and Thomas

Pert's statement on ASADA sanctions CEO Gary Pert has addressed supporters regarding Josh Thomas and Lachlan Keeffe's decision to not contest the ASADA findings.
Collingwood Chief Executive Officer Gary Pert read the following statement to the nation's media, following statements from Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas on Monday morning.

Collingwood Chief Executive Officer Gary Pert read the following statement to the nation's media, following statements from Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas on Monday morning.

As you have just heard from the players, they accept that they have each breached the anti-doping policy, albeit unintentionally. They accept that they will be sanctioned.

This means the players will be ineligible to play football for two seasons, including this year.

The Collingwood Football Club has decided in response to this to delist both players. They have also had a portion of their 2015 contracts withheld, sums which amount to a financial penalty of approximately $50,000 each.

This figure has been agreed to by the players and their representatives.

The Collingwood Football Club has advised both players that if they choose to nominate for the National Draft at the end of this season Collingwood will redraft them as rookies, if they are still available to us.

At this point, I would like to clarify the view of the board and the club leadership around this incident.

We accept that Josh and Lachlan did not intentionally take performance enhancing drugs and they did not knowingly consume Clenbuterol.

We accept that this was a case of two young men who made poor decisions to consume illicit drugs, decisions they will regret for the rest of their lives.

Their decisions will cost them two years of playing AFL football, a game they love and have dreamed of playing since they were boys. It will ultimately cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and damage their reputations.

They have let down their families and team-mates and, after a two year break, there are no guarantees that they will play AFL football again but we are certainly hopeful that they do.

They are good people who have made a bad decision that we believe is not part of a pattern of behaviour for these individuals. Our commitment to redraft them says much about our regard for them.

 
We also believe that the best thing we can do for them is to provide a light at the end of the tunnel, a chance to rekindle their football careers.

To this end, Lachlan and Josh will participate in a targeted AFL drug testing program at the discretion of the club as they are determined to rebuild their careers and their reputations.

As everyone would be aware, this six-month investigation has been conducted by ASADA in conjunction with the AFL. The Collingwood Football Club has cooperated fully whenever asked but has largely been a bystander.

During our various discussions with Josh, Lachlan, their legal representatives, their managers, ASADA, the AFL and other relevant internal and external parties, we have had to observe strict confidentialities.

It would not have been possible to establish the facts without first agreeing to confidentiality, which allowed all parties to speak freely and for us to gather a complete, and we believe accurate, picture of this ordeal.

The undertakings given to receive this information will continue to be honoured.

So what have we learned from this as a club?

That the review of the AFL’s Illicit Drug Policy that is underway is not only warranted but change is necessary. We want to be preventing problems, not solving them.

There must be a greater level of accountability and consequence for players if they are detected taking illicit drugs. I remind everyone that Lachlan and Josh made decisions to take illicit drugs, not performance enhancing drugs, on the assumption that even if detected they would only receive a strike without sanction and their identities would have remained anonymous.This is clearly not a big enough deterrent. We need to have an industry policy that has a consequence big enough to convince all players to say no.

We have also learned that the clubs need to be an inside part of any new IDP regime.No-one in the game has a greater investment in, or concern for, their players than the clubs. In terms of helping a player with a problem, of any description, the clubs are in a unique and privileged position to help. This position, at present, is ignored.

The fourth and arguably most important thing we have learned is that there is no longer a separation between illicit and performance enhancing drugs. Anyone in our game who chooses to consume illicit drugs must also, from now on, accept that they may also be consuming performance enhancing drugs.

The events that have brought us here today, I believe, amount to a turning point for our code and more broadly, for Australian sport. A new reality exists for athletes across Australia following today’s outcome.

The decision to take an illicit drug which, up until now, would have held no consequences in some sports and in the AFL seen an anonymous strike recorded could now result in a major sanction or the end of your career.

The game changes for athletes as of today.

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"This is a big blue. One that's very public + one they've paid for." Nick Maxwell reflects on Keeffe + Thomas' suspensions. WATCH - http://magpi.es/1TiPqgi

Posted by Collingwood Football Club on Sunday, 9 August 2015