Sam Murray in action for Collingwood.
Sam Murray in action for Collingwood.

Low drug test won’t save Murray

ONE of Melbourne's best sports lawyers says the similarities in Sam Murray's case to Wendell Sailor's maximum cocaine suspension show "he is up against it" to dodge a four-year ban.

Sports Lawyer principal Paul Horvath helped represent Mark Thompson through the Essendon supplements scandal and has vast experience in AFL and ASADA matters.

He told the Herald Sun that like Sailor before him, Collingwood defender Murray had few options to argue for a discount on a penalty that has doubled to four years, up from two years when Sailor was banned.

Murray is believed to have had trace amounts of cocaine in his system from the Round 19 clash against Richmond after taking the drug as far back as the Tuesday night of that week.

He has told friends the level of cocaine in his system was extremely low, but under ASADA law only a positive test matters, with experts saying the upcoming B sample is almost always identical to the A sample.

Sailor tested positive following a Super 14 rugby match between NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies in April 2006 and received no discount from the full ban.

 

Sam Murray in action for Collingwood. Picture: Michael Klein
Sam Murray in action for Collingwood. Picture: Michael Klein

"As a general comment I would say this kid is up against it. Whatever your sympathies are, my comment is not about sympathies, it's about the law,'' Horvath said.

"It is a harsh system and they are unapologetic about the system being harsh.

"It is pretty serious and makes it difficult to seek a reduction. Without knowing all the facts, in normal circumstances it is difficult to seek a reduction for taking a stimulant like cocaine on match day

"Remember Wendell Sailor, he had cocaine from taking it three or four days before his match, clearly not related to being in a match.

"Sailor got no discount and it didn't help him that it had nothing to do with playing for the benefit on the day. And it was in traces that could not help him perform better on the day.

"This guy is in more strife than him."

Wendall Sailor during his time at NSW Waratahs. Picture: David Clark
Wendall Sailor during his time at NSW Waratahs. Picture: David Clark

Some AFL players have received discounts for ASADA breaches.

St Kilda's Ahmed Saad received an 18-month penalty and Ryan Crowley a 12-month ban for taking methadone as part of treatment for back pain.

But Collingwood pair Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas accepted full two-year bans in 2015 without discounts.

Horvath said the hard line policy was an extreme disincentive to cheats, but also caught people who never meant to use performance enhancing drugs.

"It is an excessive penalty and I think in one sense WADA write the code, so they don't apologise for the harshness of the penalties because we are trying to clean up the sport.

"The problem may be you pick up people who are not using substances for performance enhancement. It's how you can end up with excessive penalties."

 

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