Doping code not right for teams: Greens

Australian team sports should consider following US professional sporting bodies including the NFL and become voluntary members of the World Anti-Doping Agency code, the Greens say.

Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale says a more fit-for-purpose code should be looked at when it comes to team sports following the suspension of 34 past and present Essendon players for anti-doping offences.

Dr Di Natale said WADA was designed with individual Olympic athletes in mind and did not suit the culture of team sports.

“It doesn’t take into consideration the broader structures that support team athletes,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I think that it’s worth looking at something that might broaden out the responsibility on all of the people who have been involved in this episode, rather than saying this is a fault of individual players and ignoring all other factors.”

Were the AFL to withdraw from the wider code, they would lose crucial funding from the federal government.

Mr Di Natale, a medical doctor and a former VFL player, has been highly critical of the verdict handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday,

It banned 12 players currently listed with Essendon and five others who are at rival clubs from playing for the entire 2016 season.

A system that lays most of the blame “at the hands of young people and ignores all of those factors up the line shows we have a system that’s not working properly”, he said.

“The onus of responsibility needs to be applied further up the line to those health professionals, health administrators and other individuals who have had a role to play in what’s occurred here.”

He said it was unrealistic to expect young, impressionable players who are playing alongside their heroes to speak out against them.

He called on Sport Minister Sussan Ley to set up a broad, independent inquiry into Australia’s anti-doping framework to make sure a similar situation was not repeated.

“I think of the turmoil that [the players] have been put through over the past three years,” he said.

“That does reflect the fact that we do need reform and we need to ensure that happens quickly.”

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