West Coast’s 2006 AFL premiership has been tarnished by a culture of illicit drug use, according to former Sydney forward Barry Hall, as former Eagles personnel face questions over efforts to deal with the problem.
Hall, one of the Eagles’ beaten grand final opponents in the 2006 flag decider, is unsure if the club’s document culture of drug-taking was performance enhancing.
But he has echoed AFL legend Kevin Bartlett, who wants a “black line” put through the Eagles’ achievements 11 years ago.
“Everyone knew what they were doing but no one wanted to acknowledge it or do anything about it,” Hall told News Corp Australia.
“But there are no positive tests and what effect any drugs may have had on game day is unproven.
“Unfortunately, it’s just a tarnished year that you almost write off.”
The 2006 Norm Smith medallist, West Coast’s Andrew Embley, has admitted the issue may have prevented the club winning another flag during the 2001-2007 era.
Other former Eagles from that time have defended the club’s handling of the drug-taking, exposed in a previously unreleased AFL report published by News Corp.
John Worsfold, the Eagles premiership-winning former coach, said his regime’s response included player de-listings but he lacked evidence to go further.
“I still struggle with that, about what action you do take when someone implies something but with absolutely no evidence other than they think something,” Worsfold told radio show Sportsday.
“Unfortunately, it’s just a tarnished year that you almost write off”
Star ex-player Daniel Kerr said the drug use was limited to a small minority of the squad.
“Whilst we were playing, it was a very, very, very small few that it did get out of hand for,” Kerr told the Seven Network.
“The majority of the group is getting tarnished.
“It wasn’t out of hand. It wasn’t a team issue. It was a select few issue.”
The 2008 report by retired Victorian Supreme Court judge William Gillard found a culture of drug-taking was in place by the end of 2003.
“Most of the players would have known by 2004 that some of the senior and better players were dabbling in illicit drugs,” Gillard found.
“Yet nothing was done. The players concerned were playing good football.”