Gold Coast have been rocked by allegations of drug use but former coach Guy McKenna says he was unaware of any such issues when he was at the club.
McKenna coached the Suns from their inception in 2009 until he was sacked at the end of last season and says he was never told of any problems, despite the recent allegations of cocaine use implicating several of his players made by Karmichael Hunt.
But he admits he was similarly unaware of issues with illicit drug use that later became well-publicised during his decorated career at West Coast.
“I lived through all that West Coast business as well, as a player, as a team-mate, as a captain and as an assistant coach and was unaware with that situation,” McKenna told Channel Seven’s Talking Footy.
“So, as the coach of the Gold Coast Suns, if there was anything going on, I’m sure I would’ve heard of it from other people at the club but I clearly didn’t.”
McKenna revealed he had been told in the past six weeks that a senior player had approached then chief executive Travis Auld, while he was still coach, to discuss his concerns with player misbehaviour that included drug use.
Current Suns chief executive Andrew Travis has launched an investigation into Hunt’s explosive claims, with the help of the AFL, and will interview players in a bid to get to the bottom of the issue that has stained the reputation of the club.
McKenna, however, suggested a different approach.
“I’m just hoping someone picks up the phone and asks Karmichael,” he said.
“If you want to fix and help the situation, if it is a massive situation like some people are going to try and blow it up to be, just go and ask Karmichael.
“Get the names so you can actually fix the problem.”
The allegations were contained in statements made by Hunt to Queensland law enforcement as part of a deal to have four cocaine supply charges downgraded to possession.
The Suns have contacted Hunt’s lawyers to request copies of the statements but Travis on Monday said he was not confident of success.
McKenna said that everyone associated with the set-up of the fledgling club had understood the “pitfalls” of the Gold Coast environment and “went over and above” what was required to protect and educate young players.
He maintains there is no culture of drug use at the club.
“In the end it comes down to ‘has the player failed the system?’ or ‘has the system failed the player?'” he said.
“Hand on my heart, given what I’ve seen the club do … from the chairman down to the boot studder, if anyone’s crossed the line there, it’s clearly a decision a player has actively made themselves.”