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    Docter lauds stricter policing of players’ foreign treatments

    30/08/2018 - Author: admin - Comments are closed

    AFL Medical Officers Association boss Hugh Seward has admitted it has historically been ”assumed” – but not always reliably verified – that footballers who have travelled overseas to treat injuries had not breached anti-doping rules.

    There would be no room for such uncertainty, Dr Seward said, once the major revisions to the AFL’s medical protocols are formalised following the Australian Crime Commission’s explosive report on drugs and corruption.

    The AFL is still finalising how it will tighten its medical protocols, which will include the introduction of a mandatory medical register. Revised protocols would also make it compulsory for clubs to identify and declare all treatments players received in foreign clinics, Dr Seward said.

    While it has become increasingly popular for AFL clubs to send players abroad to receive cutting-edge treatments, Dr Seward said these expeditions had not been policed as tightly as they will be in the future.

    ”Someone who chooses to travel overseas to have mainstream surgery is quite a different thing to going overseas and going to a clinic where some fringe or dubious practice might be undertaken. I don’t think we’ve had examples of the latter, but I think that’s what they’d be trying to prevent. It was just assumed [previously] that people would be practising appropriately. No longer do we assume that. We want to actually know. I think that’s a difference,” he said.

    ”I think [clubs] have to be able to record specifically what was used so that they’d comply with the [AFL] register, and if the club doctor was concerned that some of the medications might not comply with the code they’d need to check that. It involves a greater scrutiny and recording.

    ”It makes that whole process more complex because the materials that might be used in a foreign clinic would have to be identified and declared, and if necessary if they weren’t on the previously approved list they’d have to be approved.”

    Geelong, in 2007, famously spent an estimated $20,000 to send now-retired player Max Rooke to Germany for treatment with controversial doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt before that year’s grand final. Rooke, who had suffered a hamstring injury but returned to play in Geelong’s premiership after being injected with a highly filtered extract from calf blood – Actovegin – that improves the circulation of oxygen in humans and thereby aids recovery. The club was open about Rooke’s treatment and the legality of it. Richmond sent Mark Coughlan, who also battled hamstring injuries, to Muller-Wohlfahrt in 2008. Coughlan was injected 102 times with Actovegin during his two-week treatment.

    Fairfax Media is not suggesting that anything that contravened anti-doping rules occurred in Rooke or Coughlan’s consultations.

    Actovegin use is allowed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, though WADA has said for years that it is closely monitoring how the substance is administered.

    Muller-Wohlfahrt, who treated Usain Bolt before last year’s Olympics, says his methods are actually conservative and low-risk.

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