AFL chief Gillon McLachlan feels for Willie Rioli, but has warned West Coast to prepare for a lengthy investigation into his alleged tampering with an ASADA urine test.
League general counsel Andrew Dillon dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he announced Rioli’s immediate provisional suspension after ASADA reported an adverse finding with a test that occurred on August 20.
It has been reported a sports drink was used in place of urine from Rioli, but Eagles football chief Craig Vozzo would only say “something other than urine” had been detected in his sample jar.
Rioli was removed from the line-up to face Geelong in Friday night’s semi-final at the MCG and is said to be devastated by the development.
McLachlan and West Coast have expressed their concerns for Rioli’s mental health while he has the threat of a four-year ban hanging over him.
But the AFL boss said that the joint AFL-ASADA investigation must be given time to run its course.
“Technically there are provisions for an expedited hearing but my understanding is (it won’t be),” McLachlan replied on 3AW on Friday when asked if there was any chance the investigation could finish before the grand final.
“The priority for West Coast and for us is Willie’s mental health … that’s not something that’s in contemplation.
“He has been provisionally suspended while ASADA continues their investigation and the case comes to a head.
“These things take some time and this is clearly something that’s different from the standard ones so I’m sure it will take some time.”
Collingwood’s Sam Murray was recently handed an 18-month doping ban arising from a test that occurred in August last year.
“It’s the way that the code works,” McLachlan said.
“These are complicated cases but our industry, the AFL and our clubs, accept that they are signatories to this code and that that’s the way it works.”
Rioli can train with the team during his provisional suspension, but can’t play in the WAFL or any other league that is signed up to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
Questions have been raised over the testing process and how a drink could possibly be used as a replacement without ASADA testers present raising the alarm.
“I’m cautious … but I think they (ASADA) were only clear when the final results came in on Wednesday that it wasn’t urine,” McLachlan said.
McLachlan would not say whether Rioli has been tested again after the alleged tampering took place or whether he has any strikes to his name under the league’s illicit substance code, which is separate to the ASADA code.