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Willie Rioli scandal made West Coast Eagles to rethink about dr*g-testing procedures

The West Coast Eagles will review the way they manage dr*g-testing procedures in the wake of the scandal engulfing forward Willie Rioli.

Key points:

  • It’s alleged Rioli provided authorities with a substance other than urine for testing

  • An investigation is underway and Rioli is facing a four-year ban from football

  • The Eagles lost to Geelong on Friday night, ending their premiership hopes

Reasons behind ban:

Rioli allegedly provided Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority testers with a substance other than urine during an out-of-competition control test at training last month, and now faces a four-year ban from football.

The AFL and the club were informed on Wednesday that Rioli’s sample had returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for Urine Substitution. The 24-year old was provisionally suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

Eagle's Team
Eagle’s Team

Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs told ABC Radio Perth’s SportsTalk program the club may consider having one of its officials present for future dr*g tests.

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“Whenever something happens, certainly something as serious as this happens, we have to review it and really improve on whatever the processes are,” Gibbs said.

“It’s important that we look after our players and our staff, so yeah it’s something that will be part of a review no doubt.”

Rioli has returned to the Northern Territory to be with family, and will make his way to his home on the Tiwi Islands next week.

There is no definite time line for ASADA to finish its investigation, though West Coast is expecting to wait several months to be informed of the outcome.

“It definitely needs to go through an investigation [and] there’s other samples apparently that need to be looked at,” Gibbs said.

“Our priority therefore is making sure Willie’s welfare is looked after.

“We can’t affect the process or the timeline at all, that will be determined by the authorities, so we’ll really have to wait and see.

“I’ve heard anything from three-to-six months.”

Gibbs said the Eagles were considering sending staff to the Tiwi Islands to support Rioli during the investigation.

“Who that will be and how often that’s going to be is yet to be determined, but it’s certainly something that needs to be looked at,” he said.

“He’s one of our players and he’s very much an important part of the list.”

Eagles is not excusing for their loss:

The Eagles’ premiership defense ended after Friday night’s 20-point loss to Geelong, but the club said it was not using the dr*g scandal as an excuse.

West Coast started the match poorly, trailing by as much as five goals, before leading by four points at three-quarter time.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson said it was difficult to tell exactly what impact Rioli’s late withdrawal and the ensuing media storm had on the playing group.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to tell,” he said after the Eagles’ loss.

“They’re human and we care about Willie and we still do.

“We addressed it on Wednesday night. We looked pretty tight and pretty galvanised but we’re hurting, we’re hurting for him.”

The Eagles returned to Perth early on Saturday morning, and were greeted by a small but dedicated crowd at Perth Airport.

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