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AT LEAST seven AFL clubs were named in a confidential briefing to competition chiefs by the Australian Crime Commission as being vulnerable to illicit drugs.
While the AFL moved on Sunday to play down its links with performance enhancing substances, all 18 clubs have been summoned to individual briefings at head office over the coming weeks to hear about any problems at their club.
Gillon McLachlan. Photo: Paul Rovere
AFL deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Sunday that Essendon was being investigated for having doped multiple players ''without their knowledge or their consent''.
Another AFL player at another club was also strongly suspected of having used performance enhancing drugs.
Although the federal government has moved to waive confidentiality contracts signed by AFL and NRL chiefs in urging clubs to come forward, this second AFL club reportedly remained unaware of its involvement.
McLachlan said that in its briefings with the ACC, the AFL had received no suggestion it was being investigated for match fixing, an issue being faced by the NRL.
At least seven and as many as nine AFL clubs have been found by the ACC to be vulnerable to illicit drug activity and therefore vulnerable to organised crime activity.
One of those clubs is Collingwood, whose chief, Gary Pert, alerted the competition to a ''volcanic'' drug problem in the game late last year.
Apart from Essendon, every other AFL club was contacted by Fairfax Media on Sunday and confirmed they had been instructed to attend individual meetings with the AFL in coming weeks, but none has been informed about a player being investigated for drug cheating.
It is understood the club involved will be informed by the ACC or the ASADA as early as Monday.
Three AFL figures - CEO Andrew Demetriou, McLachlan and league investigator Brett Clothier - know the identity of the club but not the player.
The Essendon players were told by club president David Evans in recent days that the club was attempting to clarify the full nature of their medical and sport-science treatment during the 2012 season. It is understood that players on the 2012 list but now playing at other clubs have not all been contacted by the Bombers.
All players suspected of having been treated with potentially illegal substances will be represented separately by a Queen's counsel employed by the AFL Players Association.
Evans was unavailable for comment on Sunday but spent Friday in Canberra in talks with ASADA. The agency has not interviewed any Essendon players.
On Sunday Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Justice Minister Jason Clare called for clubs to ''come clean'' on whether their players had been using drugs.
Mr Clare said clubs should confess any involvement to prevent the scandal growing, to ''put the frighteners'' on criminals who might be involved and to force players, or those who know of involved players, to admit their behaviour.
Ms Gillard, speaking in New Zealand, said she believed football fans were anxious to know what had been happening inside their clubs and wanted to get to the bottom of the scandal.
''So I would say to clubs, 'Please come clean. Make sure that you tell your fans what is going on.' ''For clubs that have got absolutely nothing to hide, then it will come as a great relief to fans to know that. For clubs that have had problems, then it's better to step forward and be very clear about them.''
Meanwhile, peptide sellers, including the Medical Rejuvenation Clinic in Sydney, part-owned by former Essendon team scientist Stephen Dank, have removed products from sale and pulled down websites.
And the Therapeutic Goods Administration has moved to close a loophole by banning the sale of peptides without a prescription.
With TONY WRIGHT and RACHEL OLDING