Greater Western Sydney have been fined $100,000 and stripped of 1000 draft points over the Lachie Whitfield affair.
An AFL commission sub-committee on Thursday upheld a charge against the Giants of conduct unbecoming or likely to prejudice the interests or reputation of the league.
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 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.
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.
An AFL spokesman on Thursday said the three-man sub-committee, led by AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, had ruled the Giants were responsible for the actions of their senior employees.
The sub-committee also found that the Giants’ board, chief executive and chief operating officer had not been aware of the misconduct and the club’s governance could not be faulted.
“The club takes integrity matters extremely seriously and has co-operated fully with the AFL on this matter from the outset,” the Giants said in a statement on Thursday.
“Whilst disappointed, the club now accepts the decision handed down and will move forward positively towards the 2017 season.”
There had been speculation GWS would lose their first two selections in the 2017 draft if found guilty.
The loss of 1000 draft points translates to about pick 17 in this year’s draft.