The investigation into use of supplements at Essendon was not prompted by the imminent release of a wide-ranging Australian Crime Commission (ACC) report, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou says.
Demetriou was in Canberra on Thursday for the release of the ACC report into the integrity of Australian sport and the relationship between professional sporting bodies, prohibited substances and organised crime.
It came two days after Essendon revealed they were being investigated by the AFL and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) because of concerns about supplements supplied to the players last year.
“The Essendon story came about because the football club approached the AFL in recent days and asked the AFL and ASADA to conduct an investigation because they were being asked certain questions by people, including the media, and the chairman took it upon himself to ask various people around the club and then came to the AFL,” said Demetriou.
Demetriou said the AFL had set up its own integrity unit in 2008, believing at the time the greatest threats to the sport were gambling, performance-enhancing drugs and salary cap compliance.
“As time has gone by we have taken the opportunity for much more intelligence gathering – and with that intelligence gathering and information sharing that’s already in existence we’ve tackled a number of issues,” said Demetriou.
“The latest was in relation to the issue of betting. With the issue of performance-enhancing drugs, we were made privy to (it) by the Australian Crime Commission.
“It came as a shock as we have a very thorough and rigorous testing regime.
“But when you hear about organised crime and the sophisticated organisation of drugs and how the scientists are ahead of the testers, then you do have to rely on intelligence gathering.
“But we can do more.”
Demetriou said the AFL fully supported the recommended actions and protocols arising from the ACC report.