Murray ‘up against it’ over drugs penalty

August 26, 2018

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As published in the Sunday Herald Sun – Sunday, 26th August 2018


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.

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

He told the Sunday Herald Sun yesterday 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 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.

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

“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 make it difficult to seek a reduction.

“Without knowing all the facts, in normal circumstances it is difficult to see 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 was in traces that could not help him perform better on the day.  This guy is in more strife than him.”

Some AFL players have received discounts for ASADA breaches.

St Kilda’s Ahmed Saad received an 18-month penalty for taking stimulant contained in an energy drink, and Docker Ryan Crowley a 12-month ban for taking methadone in a painkiller.

But Collingwood pair Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas accepted full two-year bans in 2015 without discounts after testing positive to clenbuterol.