Sport AFL AFL star Willie Rioli apologises for drug test scandal
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AFL star Willie Rioli apologises for drug test scandal

Willie Rioli
Rioli allegedly poured another liquid into a drug-testing beaker during a routine ASADA doping test. Photo: Getty
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Accused young AFL champion Willie Rioli has issued a emotional public apology after a bizarre doping scandal that has rocked the West Coast Eagles on the eve of their finals campaign.

One of the league’s best forwards, the 24-year-old took to Facebook on Friday to say he was “so, so sorry” he had put his real family and friends through “this tough time”.

The apology was in a private post to friends and later shared by the AFL.

“Just want to thank all my real family & friends for all the love and support through this tough time!” it starts.

“Im (sic) so, so sorry I had to put yous (sic) all through this! We will get through this! I’v (sic) gone through tougher times life support, depression, bullying an (sic) we’ve gotten through!

“hopefully (sic) this lil (sic) mistake is a lesson to be learnt! This definitely doesn’t define me as a person! I Love yous (sic) all”.

Source: AFL.com.au

League general counsel Andrew Dillon dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he announced Rioli’s immediate provisional suspension after ASADA reported an adverse finding with a test that occurred on August 20.

It has been reported a sports drink was used in place of urine from Rioli, but Eagles football chief Craig Vozzo would only say “something other than urine” had been detected in his sample jar.

On the chances of a hearing before the grand final, if West Coast make it through Friday night’s semi-final against Geelong at the MCG, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told Melbourne’s 3AW he believed Rioli’s season was over.

“Technically there are provisions for an expedited hearing but my understanding is [it won’t be],” he said.

“The priority for West Coast and for us is Willie’s mental health … that’s not something that’s in contemplation.

“He has been provisionally suspended while ASADA continues their investigation and the case comes to a head.

“These things take some time and this is clearly something that’s different from the standard ones so I’m sure it will take some time.”

Rioli can train with the team during his provisional suspension, but can’t play in the WAFL or any other league that is signed up to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

A devastated Rioli left the team hotel in Melbourne after he was informed of the breach of the ASADA code and flew to Darwin.

Rioli was removed from the line-up to face Geelong in Friday night’s semi-final at the MCG following the revelation.

McLachlan and West Coast have expressed their concerns for Rioli’s mental health, but the AFL boss said that the joint AFL-ASADA investigation must be given time to run its course.

Collingwood’s Sam Murray was recently handed an 18-month doping ban arising from a test that occurred in August last year.

Rioli can train with the team during his provisional suspension, but can’t play in the WAFL or any other league that is signed up to the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Questions have been raised over the testing process and how a drink could possibly be used as a replacement without ASADA testers present raising the alarm.

“I’m cautious … but I think they (ASADA) were only clear when the final results came in on Wednesday that it wasn’t urine,” McLachlan said.

McLachlan would not say whether Rioli has been tested again after the alleged tampering took place or whether he has any strikes to his name under the league’s illicit substance code, which is separate to the ASADA code.

willie-rioli
Willie Rioli has been a big part of the Eagles small forward threat. Photo: Getty

-with AAP