Johnson stood down after drug probe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johnson stood down after drug probe

By Justin Chadwick and Sam Lienert 18/05/2010 08:11:31 PM Comments (0)

A distressed Michael Johnson is facing a lengthy ban from AFL ranks after being told he will be charged by police for possessing an illegal substance.

Johnson, a 25-year-old father of two, was stood down indefinitely by Fremantle on Tuesday after he was allegedly caught in possession of cocaine in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He was told by police he would be charged by summons at a later date and is set to face further sanctions from the Dockers once more details come to light.

The 92-game veteran, who has played a key role up forward and as a back-up ruckman in Fremantle's impressive 6-2 start to the year, has been forbidden to play or train at any level by the Dockers until further notice.

"We are very disappointed that Michael placed himself in a situation that allowed these circumstances to arise," Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said in a statement.

"Due to the serious nature of the matter and an impending police charge, the club believes that standing Michael down was the appropriate course of action to take at this stage.

"It will also allow Michael to focus on all related legal issues and make that his priority.

"Michael is distressed by the turn of events and, in the best interests of his welfare, we will take the appropriate time to work through the situation with him and his legal representative."

It's not the first time an AFL player has found themselves engulfed in a drugs controversy this year.

Geelong suspended Mathew Stokes until round eight after the premiership forward was caught in possession of one gram of cocaine in February.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said Johnson's alleged possession of cocaine adds weight to league data of a trend towards stimulant use.

Figures released by the AFL last week showed that of 14 positive tests under their illicit drugs program last year, 13 were for stimulants such as cocaine, ecstasy and ice.

"I think you also heard last week that cocaine seemed to be a drug that was on the up in numbers, so it confirms what we know," Demetriou said.

"We know that there are players out there who for whatever reason aren't getting the message or have got another issue.

"We will continue to reaffirm the message that there's no place for illicit drugs in our code and there's no place for illicit drugs in the community."

Demetriou expected Johnson to receive a strike under the league's three strikes policy, although he said the Dockers and the AFL were yet to fully ascertain the facts of the case.

West Coast coach John Worsfold backed the AFL's controversial three strikes policy, where a player is only named and shamed after testing positive a third time.

"I'm supportive of the way the AFL are going about it," Worsfold said.

"There's a lot of issues in this world that we all face.

"You're not immune to it in the AFL environment but it's still a lot safer environment.

"I would love my kids to be in the AFL environment because of the support networks they have available to them, I think they would be in a better place than being outside it."

Johnson's demotion couldn't come at a worse time for the Dockers, who started the season in a blaze of glory but are now facing their first injury crisis of the year.

Key defender Luke McPharlin is set to miss 8-10 weeks with a knee injury, Greg Broughton has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a foot complaint while midfielder David Mundy (knee) is in major doubt for Saturday's clash with Sydney at the SCG.

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