Kevin Sheedy. Photo: Arsineh Houspian
Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy has called for a life ban for any sports scientist found guilty of doping following revelations the AFL and Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority have launched an investigation into unknown ''supplements'' taken by Essendon last year.
Sheedy's Giants will face the Bombers in the third round of the NAB Cup at Manuka Oval next month in what was meant to be a blockbuster event as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.
But the revelations large numbers of Essendon players were taken away from the club for secret injections of what was believed to be peptides has thrown a drug cloud over the clash.
Medical experts have said two-year bans for taking performance-enhancing drugs could be handed out to any players found guilty. Bombers captain Jobe Watson could lose his Brownlow Medal if he was involved.
Bombers fitness coach Dean Robinson has been suspended during the investigation as a result.
Sheedy praised his former club, which he coached to four premierships during 27 years in charge, for coming forward and said the AFL needed to clarify exactly what was acceptable and punish anyone who breaks the rules.
He said the AFL needed to act now to prevent a repeat of the problems that have plagued cycling in recent years, culminating in the Lance Armstrong scandal that has again rocked the sport.
Sheedy said ''the few bad apples'' needed to be removed before they could spoil the competition.
Greater scrutiny needed to be applied to ensure sports scientists like Michele Ferrari, at the centre of the Armstrong scandal, didn't make their way into the AFL.
''Everything's got to be looked at and sorted out,'' Sheedy said.
''You know the Bible and they're the commandments and if you're anywhere over you're going to suffer the penalty.
''And sooner or later, just kick them out of the game. Cycling didn't and we've got to learn from cycling … it's about the integrity of our game.''
He said the investigation needed to clarify exactly what substances were legal and what ones weren't.
Essendon officials said they have no idea if what the players have taken was allowed or not.
''What will come out of this is, what is performance-enhancing drugs and what is the edge? And I think every club has to get a real reading on the riot act of this,'' Sheedy said.
''I think it's important that Essendon put their hand up and said, 'We don't know'.
''What I also think will come out of this is if you're not ticked off for sports science analysis in sports medicine then I would say the AFL will have very strong control over who gets employed.''
If players were also suspended, it could mean an Essendon reserves team runs out onto Manuka to play the Giants on March 8.
But Sheedy, who was at the ground to check out the new lights and look for a naming rights sponsor for the oval on Wednesday, thought it wouldn't detract from the spectacle of the first AFL game under lights in the nation's capital.
He said it would kick off a great season for Canberra, which will also host St Kilda, Gold Coast and the Prime Minister's Cup against the Western Bulldogs.
''Why wouldn't [the Essendon game be a success]?'' he said.
''[Bombers coach] James Hird is coming back to Canberra. He wouldn't come back; put him in the NAB Cup and he's got to come back and he mightn't win. As a matter of fact he probably won't win.''
Sheedy said the Giants were looking for a naming-rights sponsor for Manuka for the three home-and-away and one NAB Cup games they will play there for at least the next nine years.
Manuka is one of the few AFL grounds around the country that doesn't have such a sponsor.
''If you look at the exposure Etihad has had and you look at the exposure Skoda has had, it's pretty important to get the right people involved and we'd like to get it done in the next few weeks,'' Sheedy said.