Port Adelaide is investigating leaked messages allegedly between an AFL player and a women.
Port Adelaide is investigating leaked messages allegedly between an AFL player and a women.

Powerless Port Adelaide uncertain if lewd messages authentic

PORT Adelaide will not have the power - under league and player union rules - to sack the AFL player at the centre of allegations of illicit drug use as detailed in leaked sexting messages from several mobile telephones.

This is despite the Power's longstanding mantra of zero tolerance against all drugs.

The Port Adelaide Football Club and AFL investigations into the allegations against a star player - detailed on social media - remain mired by legal and privacy issues, in particular both the club and league's right to act on material that might have been stolen.

It is understood the player involved has a clean drug record - and will not be subject to more than rehabilitation if the AFL hits him with one strike if he admits to using an illicit drug in 2017.

The AFL's illicit drug code with the AFL Players' Association would not allow Port Adelaide to sack the player at the centre of the league's growing list of illicit drug use allegations, which this week have also included retired Greater Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford.

Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas told The Advertiser on Thursday that the player identified in the text messages on social media had not been told to front the club.

Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas. Picture: Kelly Barnes/AAP
Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas. Picture: Kelly Barnes/AAP

The Power - and the AFL - is not expected to summon the player, who is on his annual holidays, until it can verify the text messages are genuine. Both also need legal clarity on acting on material if it has been stolen from the player's private telephone or internet accounts.

"We do not know about the authenticity of (the messages)," Thomas said in Melbourne, where the Power announced its new China partnership with the St Kilda Football Club.

"It appears to be private content that has found its way into the public arena, which makes it really inappropriate for me to make any comment."

Thomas has put the club's file before the AFL and expects the league's integrity unit to eventually be drawn into the stalled investigation.

"It has not moved beyond that," Thomas said. "We do not know about the authenticity of the content (of the messages), the origins of those messages.

"We have spoken to the AFL and they are looking at it. I imagine it will end up with the integrity unit.

"I have not spoken to the player - and it is important to understand that it is private content that potentially has been inappropriately placed in the public domain.

"There are other people named in those messages. That can be quite embarrassing for them - and I don't want to be fuelling any further speculation about it."

Thomas said his club remained at the forefront of pushing for tough responses towards drug use by AFL players. But this case - with no video evidence or drug test - made it difficult to act.

"Our stance on drug use and this issue cannot be connected," Thomas said. "But our position on illicit drugs - and performance-enhancing drugs - is really clear.

"We are a very strong voice in saying there is no place for drugs in our game. But I am not connecting that with this issue because there is not enough evidence to support the allegation of drug use."

Asked of his reaction to reading the text messages placed on social media, Thomas said: "I am not going to comment because I still do not know how authentic the messages are.

"It appears to be private material. Anything could have been done to those screenshots. I cannot say they are authentic."

michelangelo.rucci@news.com.au



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