20 April, 2024
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Demons’ Joel Smith accused of cocaine trafficking

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Suspended Melbourne utility Joel Smith has been accused of trafficking or attempted trafficking of cocaine by Sports Integrity Australia, casting further doubt over his already-precarious AFL career.

Smith has been provisionally suspended since October, when he was notified of a positive cocaine test following the Demons’ round-20 win over Hawthorn on August 20.

But in a dramatic escalation on Tuesday, the AFL confirmed Sports Integrity Australia (SIA) had charged Smith with three anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) of the Australian Football Anti-Doping Code over alleged “trafficking or attempted trafficking” of cocaine to third parties.

Under the code, trafficking is defined as “selling, giving, transporting, sending, delivering or distributing a prohibited substance by an athlete … to any third party.”

Smith has also been notified of another ADRV for possession of cocaine on September 9, 2022.

He had already faced a maximum four-year ban under the AFL’s anti-doping code for his positive cocaine test.

It is unclear how much the additional charges could add to any suspension, or when that would be determined.

 Joel Smith could face a lengthy suspension on the sidelines following the latest allegations. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

Smith will remain provisionally suspended and is unable to train or play with his teammates, and the AFL confirmed under the code the new asserted violations will be further investigated by SIA.

The 27-year-old’s matter could be heard at the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal in the coming months.

This adds to a nightmare off-season for Melbourne, who have had their culture repeatedly questioned.

Demons chief executive Gary Pert recently claimed the club’s culture was “the best I’ve seen in 40 years”. 

His comment came amid significant concerns about Smith’s positive test and the behaviour of teammate Clayton Oliver, who recently returned to the fold after taking personal leave.

The Demons released a statement late on Tuesday night confirming they had been informed by the AFL of Smith’s new alleged violations. 

Melbourne also said Smith’s management had contacted the Demons, insisting comments made to News Corp suggesting the 27-year-old was being “scapegoated” didn’t come from their camp or reflect his views. 

“Joel has made it very clear that he has no issues or concerns with anyone at the Melbourne Football Club,” the Demons said.

Melbourne stressed they were not able to make public comments on the violations levelled at Smith while the investigation was ongoing.

Versatile tall Smith has battled injuries throughout his career but played 14 of his 42 career games for Melbourne last year, including the Demons’ two narrow finals losses against Collingwood and Carlton.

He is the son of former Melbourne and North Melbourne high-flyer Shaun Smith.

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