“Recently the AFL was on record saying there were a large number – that is greater than 10, less than 50 – who were being profiled by ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) and the AFL’s medical team,” Jess told superfooty.com.au’s Front & Square program.
“That infers there has been a breach of some drug protocol, to have that number (of targets).
“I think we’d be naive to think that if the AFL has come out and stated that they are profiling players that we don’t have a problem.”
The AFL has confirmed it is target-testing players with a focus on human growth hormone. Football operations manager Adrian Anderson said last night the AFL was a leader in detection methods for growth hormone and EPO.
“We are the first team sport that I am aware of in Australia to do testing for those substances,” Anderson said.
He confirmed factors looked at in targetting players were “best-and-fairest finishes, marked improvement in performance and players returning from injury”.
“ASADA describe us as the gold standard of testing in Australian sport,” Anderson said. “We are keen to do whatever we can to stay ahead of the cutting edge.
“We’ve got a drugs’ strategy steering committee that our doctors are on with ASADA representstives.”
A veteran of 30 years as an agent in the AFL and international sports, Jess said pressure to succeed was always a recipe for drug breaches.
“I think there is a pressure now for success. If success means people will use means other than pure sporting prowess, it’s fair to say that may well be the case,” he said.
Some AFL stars have been known to be target-tested.
The Herald Sun is not suggesting those players have done anything wrong, but target-testing has become a major talking point in league circles.
Asked if fans were naive to think drug cheats could not exist in the AFL, Jess said: “Yep. I think in a whole range of sports it’s surfaced and I think we would be naive to think it couldn’t happen here.”
Jess said “profiling” of targetted players took some time to compile.
“You take lots of tests over a long period of time and judge and test if there has been any change,” he said.
“Some of the substances that are being used mirror very closely what goes on in your body in a natural sense.
“Hence it is very hard to detect.”