West Coast insist they will not be distracted from their quest to win a first AFL flag in nine years by claims from former player Daniel Chick that there was a toxic culture of illicit drug use within the Eagles’ 2006 AFL flag-winning team.
Chick told the Herald Sun that he and former teammates Daniel Kerr and Ben Cousins took massive doses of asthma drug prednisone in a pattern experts describe as bizarre and inappropriate.
Chick revealed in the report on Thursday that a club staffer hid certain players from drug testers, that a former Eagles figure dished out sedatives in bulk to players and that the use of cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine were widespread in the squad.
Chick also said some players would snort crushed Xanax and take Valium with vodka to relax on flights to and from Perth.
The Eagles said they were “extremely disappointed by the content, timing and publication of some unsubstantiated claims”.
“The club and its medical staff are deeply offended by these allegations and will discuss internally an appropriate course of action,” West Coast said in a statement.
“When the club faced some challenges with its playing group a decade ago, it took steps to address those issues.
“It voluntarily undertook its own investigation, the AFL also initiated an independent investigation (by Victorian Supreme Court Judge Bill Gillard) and neither revealed the issues and allegations raised by Daniel in this story, all of which are strongly refuted.
“The club is now recognised as a leader in the area of player welfare and integrity in the country.
“Our current playing group and coaching staff will not be distracted as they embark on the challenge of winning the club’s fourth premiership at the MCG on Saturday.”
Prednisone use is banned under anti-doping rules, unless cleared by a special ASADA medical committee.
Chick said Cousins, Kerr, and himself, who were asthmatic, had this approval.
However, he would only ever take the drug during the season, on game days, and with other stimulants.
“I couldn’t even sit still on the bench,” Chick said.
“I started taking the 20mgs and 5mgs tablets on game day but then it escalated up to 40 to 50mgs quickly.
“It smashes your system. I’ve since read a lot about it, we didn’t know what was done to us. You feel bulletproof basically.
“Even the next day or two you wouldn’t feel knocks but by Wednesday you flatten out and it is hard to get going again. Once you are in that cycle it was like an addiction.”
Chick said he’d gone public with the story as he wanted senior figures at the club to be made more accountable for their players’ health.
“What went on at West Coast is due to lack of leadership from the top down,” he said.
“Players’ health should be more important than protecting the brand … I don’t think the premiership is tainted but it came at too high a price.”