Dale Lewis came out and claimed drug use was rife amongst AFL players. 2002. He was at Sydney then, so maybe Worsfold was just the one where it became more obvious
13 years ago the AFL were issued with a warning that recreational drugs were commonplace at football clubs.
That warning came from ex-Sydney player Dale Lewis. He stated that up to 75 per cent of football’s elite level participants indulged in recreational drug use, that they knew how to use masking agents to beat the drug tests and were aware of how long each substance stayed in their systems.
The drugs of choice were apparently speed and ecstasy.
It was a startling revelation and one that probably warranted further investigation, whether you believed the figures that Lewis bandied about or not.
Instead Lewis was largely derided.
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou dismissed the allegations as being naïve, stupid and an insult to the football community and issued Lewis with a ‘please explain’ letter.
AFL Players Association CEO Rob Kerr fobbed the allegations off as mere rumour and innuendo.
ASADA denied players were regular users and pointed to the 500 tests it had carried out the previous year, none of which had been positive.
And the Sydney Swans expressed disappointment that their former star would say such unpalatable things.
Only Gary Lyon, just three years retired as a player himself, showed any degree of support for Lewis.
Although he added the disclaimer that he thought Lewis’ figure of 75 per cent was too high, he said that there was consistent talk of players trying ecstasy and speed.
The Age newspaper quoted Lyon as saying, “There’s enough talk around to say, ‘Let’s not sweep this under the carpet, let’s deal with this in a mature manner’.”
Unfortunately his was a lone cry in the dark as the rest of the football world covered their ears and screamed, “I can’t hear you!”
This all happened in the pre-season of 2002.
Fast forward 13 years and it seems Lewis has been somewhat vindicated. You can nit-pick about his claim of 75 per cent all you like, but even the most blinkered observers would have to admit that recreational drugs do exist within the world of professional football, just as they do in the wider community.
Since Lewis made his claims we have watched a number of West Coast Eagles players come to grief.
The Ben Cousins situation has been well-documented, and his fight with addiction and mental illness sadly continues to this day.
Daniel Kerr forged prescriptions for valium tablets, dabbled in methamphetamines and was recorded speaking to a convicted drug dealer on a police phone tap.
Chad Fletcher nearly died during a bender with teammates on an end of season trip to Las Vegas and has also been busted for cocaine possession.
Names from other clubs have come to light also