THE AFL Players' Association will seek clarification from the Australian Crime Commission amid concerns that some players have been the targets of phone tapping.
Justice Minister Jason Clare revealed on Sunday that AFL players might have had their phones tapped as part of the ACC's investigation into the possible use of banned performance-enhancing drugs and links with organised crime in sport.
It came on the same day as the AFL moved to clarify the extent of possible performance-enhancing drug use in the code, revealing that one player from an unnamed club was under investigation, and confirming that Essendon has ''multiple players'' who might have committed breaches.
Damage control ... AFL supremo Gillon McLachlan. Photo: Getty Images
At least seven clubs were named in a confidential briefing to competition chiefs as having illicit drug problems.
If AFL players have been subject to phone tapping, it is unclear whether they were the targets, or whether they have been identified in conversations with other targets.
AFLPA boss Matt Finnis said he wasn't aware of any AFL players being the target of phone taps, and would seek clarification about the nature of the tapping. ''I would be concerned, not because players' phones have been targeted, but because it requires a number of hurdles to tap someone's phone. You need warrants, for example,'' he said.
The Justice Minister said the ACC had handed the names of the clubs in question to the AFL and the names of individuals and other relevant evidence to state and federal police and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency.
''They've used all of the powers that they have available to them to investigate this,'' Clare told ABC TV. ''We're not just talking about evidence that's been collected through coercive hearings, we're talking about documentary evidence that the Crime Commission has got, as well as the use of phone taps that corroborate all of the information they've got.''
Asked directly if the commission had been tapping the phones of footballers, Clare said: ''Well, the Australian Crime Commission has the powers of a standing royal commission. They're the most powerful law enforcement body in the country and they can tap phones, they can force people to give information, collect documents, conduct searches.''
In an effort to ease concerns of widespread drug use across the league, the AFL revealed that the ACC report had only identified two specific cases where WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drugs might have been used in the code.
AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed one of those clubs was Essendon - which went to the AFL with concerns over supplement use before the ACC handed down its report.
''Given that the Essendon Football Club has come forward to the AFL and ASADA and proactively advised us of concerns they have, it's reasonable to [say] … that the AFL is aware of potential multiple breaches at that club,'' he said.
''It's possible that players were administered the WADA-prohibited substances without their knowledge or consent.''
The AFL confirmed on Sunday that the two identified incidences were ''historical'', meaning the league is ''not aware of any current or ongoing use of WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drugs''.
McLachlan said would not identify the single player and his club, and would not say when the second potential breach allegedly occurred.