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by Lisa Albergo reporting ofr AFANA from Chicago 

GWS midfielder Lachie Whitfield has been suspended for six months for breaching AFL rules and "conduct unbecoming or prejudicial to the interests of the AFL". It all stems back to 2015 when club officials Graeme Allan and Craig Lambert arranged for Whitfield to spend several nights at Craig Lambert's house, supposedly to hide out from drug testers for fear he would fail the test. At the time, Whitfield was only 19 and Lambert was employed as the welfare officer. Also, at the time, Whitfield's then girlfriend notified the club that Whitfield was taking drugs.

The club immediately launched an investigation and notified the AFL. The drug test never eventuated nor did the club find any evidence to substantiate the claims. Whifield himself later said he was staying with Lambert because he was suffering from a migraine and concocted the drug story for his girlfriend in an attempt to get away from her. In 2016, she allegedly contacted ASADA because she felt the club was not doing enough. By that time, she was no longer with Whitfield. ASADA could find no evidence of drugs being involved either..

Whitfield apologized for his actions and said he was going through a difficult period at the time of the incident and said he was not thinking clearly. He apologized to the club and teammates and is determined to work his way back and regain their faith and trust. His suspension is backdated to November 12 when the incident was first brought to light. He will be eligible to play in Round Eight and will be allowed back at the club for the last two months of his suspension.

Both Allan and Lambert have been suspended for one year for their involvement, with the AFL saying the pair were more liable than Whitfield. Neither can be associated with any sporting organization for the duration of their suspensions. Lambert was recently appointed welfare officer with Brisbane where he had spent his playing career. Allan, who left Brisbane for GWS, was recently appointed football manager at Collingwood. When the suspension was announced, he tendered his resignation. In announcing his resignation, he reiterated that Whitfield did not miss any test, was not found to have taken any drugs or evaded or refuses testers. Hew did apologize for his role in the incident, calling it an error in judgement. Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said on his morning radio show that the situation did not involve Collingwood but was a matter between Allan, GWS and the AFL.

AFL CEO GIL McLachlan said it would be up to the league's legal counsel Andrew Dillon to determine whether or not the club should be stripped of draft picks. The club is believed to be set to fight any such sanction due to the fact that Allan and Lambert violated club protocols and acted of their own accord.

Whitfield was drafted by the Giants in 2012 and has played 72 games for the club. mHe also recently signed a new two year contract.


Article last changed on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 1:20 AM EST

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