Players union slams AFL medical chief
Players union slams AFL medical chief

The AFL players' union has attacked comments made by AFL medical officer Dr Peter Harcourt over the Essendon supplements scandal.

Speaking at a anti-doping conference in Zurich last November, Harcourt revealed details of the Bombers' program and said he was setting up a program to monitor the players involved because of fears they might contract cancer or have other hormonal problems.

It prompted a fierce retort from the AFL Players Association acting chief executive Ian Prendergast, who described Harcourt's lecture as "unhelpful" to the Bomers.

"We disagree with Dr Harcourt’s suggestion that players passively accepted the use of supplements and did not ‘jack up and say what the hell is going on’," Prendergast said in a statement.

"As has been made abundantly clear on many occasions, players took an active role in ensuring that the substances they were to be administered were compliant with the WADA Code and were provided with written guarantees from the club to that effect.

"This is hardly what we would call ‘passive acceptance’.

Prendergast also slammed suggestions there were long-term health fears for the Bombers involved in the supplements regime.

"We also believe Dr Harcourt’s comments with regards to potential health consequences are unhelpful and have the potential to create unnecessary stress and anxiety for players and their families," Prendergast said.

"As has been reported, the Players’ Association has been working with the AFL and the club to implement a health protocol to monitor players’ health going forward.

"However, to publicly speculate on any potential health issues in the absence of any evidence is premature and inappropriate."

Harcourt's commentary in the video about what happened at the club is scathing.

"It was shocking, the extent to which experimental drugs were given to young athletes," he said.

"It highlighted the craziness or madness of certain individuals who were in the support staff, who really didn't come to grips with what they were doing."

He accused senior club officials of having "fan syndrome" where they accepted what was going on with the supplements program.

"(There was) fan syndrome ... the leadership at the club were ex-players who were icons of the game," Dr Harcourt said.

"I think this intimidated a number of management staff, the corporate management of the club."

He also did not spare the players involved in the program.

"There was quite broad acceptance by the players of this program, even though it involved quite unusual practices and hundreds of injections," he said.

"Athletes passively accepted the use - this shocked us, that players did not jack up and say 'what the hell is going on?'"

Harcourt added those players would need monitoring for potential health problems stemming from the supplements they took.

He said some of the substances involved remained unknown.

The West Australian

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