AFL sets date for GWS-Whitfield hearing

Greater Western Sydney will fight a charge laid over the Lachie Whitfield affair just days before Christmas.

The Giants were initially set to contest the charge in front of the full AFL Commission on December 13 but that meeting was adjourned on Monday.

GWS instead will front a commission sub-committee on December 22 after being charged for breaching AFL rule 2.3, which covers conduct which is unbecoming or likely to prejudice the interests or reputation of the AFL.

The charge was laid after Whitfield and then club officials Graeme Allan and Craig Lambert were suspended for conspiring to avoid a potential drug test last year.

The club faces the possible loss of draft picks or a fine if found guilty by the three-man sub-committee comprising AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and commission members Jason Ball and Paul Bassatt.

The Giants’ trio was investigated after Whitfield spent three days at Lambert’s house, with the knowledge of Allan, in May last year in an alleged bid to avoid a possible drug test, which is a violation of the anti-doping code.

However, Allan and Lambert – the club’s head of football and player welfare manager respectively at the time – accepted 12-month bans and Whitfield a six-month suspension for breaching the same AFL rule the Giants were charged with.

But GWS refused to agree to a similar negotiated penalty, the club steadfastly maintaining their innocence, arguing Allan and Lambert had acted independently.

“Their handling of the matter was independent of the club and did not conform with the clearly established club protocols, thus in no way relating to a governance failure on behalf of the club,” said a GWS statement released on November 24 when the charge was laid.

“The club regards any potential sanction stemming from this charge as unwarranted and inappropriate, given the admissions by the former staff members that they acted outside their authority.”

Allan, who was named Collingwood’s general manager of football in August, quit his post in response to the suspension.

Lambert moved on to a similar post with Brisbane and will miss the entire 2017 season.

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