Medicos need more control over AFL scientists
Medicos need more control over AFL scientists

Renowned WA sports doctor Ken Maguire has warned that sports scientists were being handed too much power and urged clubs to leave the ultimate responsibility for the health and well being of players in the hands of doctors.

"It is happening completely across Australia at the moment," Maguire said yesterday. "The sports science guys, who are very qualified, have moved in. They do the conditioning.

"The sports science guys are very charismatic. They are nice guys, they get on with the athletes, they are bulked up, they look good.

"The athletes relate better to them than the physio or the doctor."

Maguire said the controversy at Essendon shaped as a wake-up call for all elite Australian sporting clubs on the dangers of handing too much power to their sports scientists.

"These guys are giving supplements and drinks and potions and everyone assumes these guys are trained and employed, it is all quite safe," Maguire said.

"Almost all of it is safe but nobody really knows what is in some of these things.

"It is assumed that what is on the label is the right substance but the labels don't always tell you what is there. Clubs are setting themselves up for a possible positive drug test.

"It has the potential to cause a problem. That is the bottom line. If that potential comes to fruition, my god, a whole team could test positive and that would be a disaster."

Sports Medicine Australia's Dr Peter Larkins warned of severe ramifications if ASADA found the supplements were illegal.

"If it's proven, then the whole club now has an issue of a sanction and if it's broken WADA rules, the sanction is two years," he said.

"Every single player that has a proven violation of the doping code would be subject to suspension."

No player had tested positive but ASADA could still suspend anyone who it could prove took illegal substances and ignorance couldn't be used as an excuse.

"The onus is on you as the athlete to determine you don't infringe the law," Larkins said.

Meanwhile, the peak professional body for the exercise and sports science industry, Exercise and Sports Science Australia, warned that sacked Essendon adviser Stephen Dank was not accredited with it and called for greater regulation of people claiming to be sports scientists.

"There is no record of him being an accredited sports scientist or having professional membership with Exercise and Sports Science Australia," a statement said.

"In the absence of a professional alignment, he cannot be disciplined or deregistered by ESSA.

"At this time, we call upon the AFL and NRL to use this potentially wide-reaching investigation as an opportunity to raise the standards and only employ 'sport scientists' that meet the accreditation standards required by ESSA.

"This would provide an industry standard and quality control measures, via the clear identification of those who meet professional practice standards."

Meanwhile, former ASADA boss Richard Ings told SEN radio that he would never have employed Dank because he was known as a person who pushed the boundaries.

Dank's behaviour in his previous role at Manly Sea Eagles had drawn ASADA's attention. "This was an era where there was lots of discussion about substances like calf blood treatment," Ings said.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West