Collingwood players Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas have finally been issued with infraction notices for alleged breaches of the AFL’s anti-doping code and face the prospect of two-year bans.
The duo tested positive in February to clenbuterol – which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency but is not a specified substance on the AFL’s prohibited list – and have been provisionally suspended since March.
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon issued the infraction notices to Keeffe and Thomas on Wednesday after being notified by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) that they had potentially breached the league’s anti-doping code.
Keeffe and Thomas will be required to face the AFL anti-doping tribunal at a date to be determined.
Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert said the next move was up to the two players.
“It’s not like we’ve been involved in the process but, from here, what we believe are the next steps is for the players to decide whether they’re going to contest – whether they want to say they accept the ruling or not, or the severity of the penalty,” Pert told radio SEN.
“Once they’ve made that decision, they’ll advise ASADA.
“So there will be no contest or they decide to contest it. If they contest it, ASADA advises the AFL, who then organise a tribunal hearing.
” … I think we are all aware of the fact that if they’re guilty and both samples are positive, that it’s pretty much an automatic two-year suspension.”
Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley, 31, returned to Dockers’ training on Tuesday for the first time since his backdated one-year suspension for testing positive to a banned painkiller was handed down in June.
Crowley’s ban ends on September 25, opening up the possibility of him returning to the Fremantle lineup for the last two weeks of the finals series, if the Dockers make it that far.
The AFL tribunal found Crowley did not intentionally breach the anti-doping code, with ASADA choosing not to appeal the length of his ban.
“This case illustrates the dangers of inadvertent doping,” said ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt in June.
“Athletes need to be careful about what they take, even if they don’t intend to cheat.”