AFL lifts sanctions threat on Eagles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL lifts sanctions threat on Eagles

By Adam Cooper 02/12/2008 08:03:39 PM Comments (0)

The AFL has removed the threat of stripping West Coast of premiership points and draft picks after being impressed by the club's moves to improve its off-field behaviour.

The league had put the Eagles on a 12-month probation to clean up their act by threatening to impose heavy sanctions on the club after tiring of the litany of indiscretions made by former Eagle Ben Cousins and his then-teammates.

West Coast Eagles Chairman Mark Barnaba on Tuesday welcomed the news from the AFL

"I spoke direct to AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and chief executive officer Andrew Demetriou and they made it clear that the sanctions that had been in place have now been lifted," he said.

"We are now on the same footing as every other club.

"(I) also want to send a clear message that we remain committed to the programs we have instituted at the club, and to the values we have entrenched over the last 18 months."

West Coast last year commissioned an independent review of the club in an attempt to clean up their game following a string of court appearances made by Eagles players, along with Cousins' well-documented addiction to illicit drugs.

The Eagles board agreed to implement all of the recommendations advised in the review, which found 13 West Coast players had been involved in 35 separate incidents of public misbehaviour between 2001 and 2007.

The incidents included the links Cousins and former Eagle Michael Gardiner had with Perth underworld figures, incidents of drug and alcohol abuse, a handful of assaults and swearing in public.

Having vowed in February to address their problems, West Coast were given a tick of approval in March by Victorian Supreme Court judge Bill Gillard, who was appointed by the AFL to conduct a separate investigation.

The two men who released the initial report, Hendy Cowan and Steve Scudamore, recently audited their review and found West Coast had implemented the recommendations they advised.

Among the recommendations were increased drug testing for Eagles players, eliminating underworld links with players, appointing minders to chaperone players in public, ensuring players abided by the club's core values and encouraging chief executive Trevor Nisbett and coach John Worsfold to focus on off-field goals.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said on Tuesday the league had received a submission from West Coast outlining the steps the club had implemented.

Demetriou said the report showed West Coast had taken "strong and appropriate action to implement the recommendations".

"Under the leadership of chairman Mark Barnaba and chief executive officer Trevor Nisbett, the club has implemented all of the recommendations and has a continuing commitment to maintain and build its culture," he said.

It is understood the Eagles no longer face the threat of being fined or stripped of premiership points or draft picks following the league's endorsement.

Cousins meanwhile is still keen to play in the AFL, but his hopes appear dashed after he was overlooked by all clubs in last Saturday's national draft.

Being selected in this month's pre-season draft is now his last chance of resuming his career.

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