|The AFL is confident it is drug-free but wants to get on the 'front foot' [GALLO/GETTY]
The Australian Football League and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) have announced a new deal in which Aussie Rules football will become the first Australian sport to test for the human growth hormone (HGH).
The new measures against anti-doping will see the AFL expand their drug-testing code to include testing for high-performance drugs EPO, CERA and HGH.
Under the arrangement with the ASADA, the AFL have entered into an information-sharing agreement that will allow the league to target and track players, using extensive blood testing and profiling and freezing blood samples for up to eight years to detect drug cheats.
"Performance-enhancing drugs are a massive threat worldwide to sports and their integrity and we are determined to stay ahead of the game, that is why we are entering into this agreement,'' football operations manager Adrian Anderson said Tuesday.
Anderson said there was no evidence of performance-enhancing drug use in Australian football, but the League wanted to be proactive.
Anderson said freezing samples would allow the AFL to apply new tests as technology advanced and to retrospectively penalise players found guilty of doping offences.
Clubs could be stripped of a premiership title and players deprived of individual awards if banned substances were detected, he said, adding that even recipients of the prestigious Brownlow Medal – awarded to the best and fairest player in the league – could be stripped of their award.
This year the league has pledged to conduct nearly 1000 tests.
ASADA acting chief executive Richard Ings said measures adopted by the AFL contained every element his agency advocated and set an example to other
"This programme is a gold-standard programme for Australia sport," ASADA's acting chief executive Richard Ings said.
Last month, British rugby league player Terry Newton was suspended for two years after giving the first positive test for HGH from a blood sample in any sport.