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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Magpies Lachlan Keeffe and Josh Thomas, provisionally suspended since March after returning positive drug tests in February, have been issued with infraction notices by ASADA and will be required to face the Anti-Doping Tribunal. No date has been set for that hearing as yet. The pair tested positive for clenbuterol, a powerful steroid used medicinally to treat breathing conditions such as asthma. However it can also be used to boost metabolic rates to burn fat and is thus considered a performance enhancing drug. The steroid is also used by veterinarians to treat horses. Although banned in most countries for use on food animals, some countries still use it. There are documented cases of people eating meats contaminated with the drug. There are also many cases of athletes around the world who have tested positive to it. Some have been banned while others have been acquitted. Many claimed to have eaten tainted meats. During the hearings which investigated rampant drug use in American baseball several years ago, clenbuterol was one of the drugs named.

Under ASADA rules, if a first test comes back positive a second test can be done. In the case of the two Collingwood players, the first tests in February were positive and second tests were then done in March and also came back positive. The AFL released a statement which indicated that the League would work with the players' representatives and ASADA to set up the hearing. The hearing will only take place if the players decide to contest the charges. Collingwood CEO Gary Pert spoke on SEN's The Run Home, saying the club had been in the dark and was only informed like everyone else, as per ASADA protocols.

Pert said while the club has provided as much support as possible, its contact with the players had been limited and he was not aware whether the pair wanted to continue their AFL careers or retire. Both returned to their home state of Queensland when the suspensions were issued. Should the players decide to accept the ban, Collingwood may not be able to keep them on the senior list, even if they want to stay with the club. However, if the club delists them with a view to redrafting them as rookies, other clubs would also have a chance to draft them.

Pert is on the AFL committee which is revisiting the League's drugs policy and took the opportunity to give his opinion on the current policy. In recent times, many have been saying that clubs should be informed immediately when a player tests positive. Pert said clubs need more power with players sometimes making bad decisions. He said "Why are young men still making these decisions when it puts their health and careers at risk even with all the education? We think the answer ... sits within the policy. There’s an element ... within the policy that is quite intimidating for the players to actually say, ‘There’s too much at stake, I don’t want to take the risk and the penalties are too big for me in the short term and the long term. We want them to say no ... but what the industry is seeing ... there are players still making bad decisions.”

Source: (audio and print), wikipedia

Article last changed on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 12:45 AM EDT

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