AFL

Essendon supplements scandal: Schools warned not to use banned players

Victorian schools have been warned not to use the banned  34 Essendon players in any coaching or mentoring capacity even if it is unpaid work.

The warning to schools came after one leading grammar school in Melbourne sought clarification from the AFL if they could use one of the 34 players in their football program.

Essendon 34 want to clear their names

The Essendon 34 are appealing the Court of Arbitration for Sport's decision in order to clear their names, but they don't expect to play in 2016. (Vision courtesy ABCNews24)

A warning memo was sent initially to all grammar schools and then forwarded by the Association of Public Schools and the Independent (Catholic) Schools Association to all of their members schools not to use any of the suspended players even in voluntary capacities. 

It is unknown if the same memo has been sent to all government schools.

Flashback: James Hird sheds a tear at a press conference on August 18, 2015, called to announce he was stepping down as ...
Flashback: James Hird sheds a tear at a press conference on August 18, 2015, called to announce he was stepping down as Essendon coach. Photo: Jason South

The players risked incurring an additional ban of up to two years if they were caught doing anything in breach of the strict conditions of their ban.

"None of the 34 can be engaged to coach or assist in sporting preparation ... until 17 November 2016," the memo to the Association of Grammar schools Victoria, the APS and Catholic schools states.   

One school was keen to have one of the Essendon 34 help out with their football program but they were told by the AFL, who are charged with enforcing for the World Anti Doping Agency the suspensions handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, against doing so. 

The memos warned there was a "grey area" in having players deliver speeches on developing an athlete to schools. However Fairfax Media has since clarified that players could talk broadly about their own experiences to a general school audience. 

Players, however, could not talk exclusively to the school's football, cricket, soccer, netball or other sports teams.

WADA rules prohibit players competing in any form of organised sport that is ultimately covered by the WADA code. So, while the banned players can play a recreational game of golf they are not allowed, for instance, to caddie for a friend who is competing in a pro-am at a local club.

The WADA code does not discriminate between a player's involvement at an amateur or professional club for playing, coaching, speeches or other form of assistance.

There is doubt if players are able to even go into the rooms of a junior sporting match to talk to a relative. St Kilda player Ahmed Saad was prohibited from even helping out with a friend's under-nine's team as he served his drug ban.