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National Rugby League examines how Johns escaped drug detection

National Rugby League examines how Johns escaped drug detection

Rocked by revelations one of its greatest players was a regular drug user, Australia's rugby league community was examining Friday how Andrew Johns' habit went undetected for so long.
After Johns' admission he used recreational drugs continually over the last 10 to 12 years, leading figures in rugby league asked who knew of his habit and how he beat league's drug testing regime for more than a decade.
National Rugby League chief executive David Gallop said he was "not aware of" Johns ever having failed a drug test and did not believe his club, Newcastle, or any official would have covered up a positive test.
Gallop said more stringent drug testing procedures recently introduced by the NRL made it less likely any player would avoid detection in future.
"Our policy is now in place where the risks of being tested are far higher across our clubs," Gallop said on ABC radio.
"He (Johns) called it a game of Russian roulette. If you like, there's another bullet in the chamber now, more chance of going through the public humiliation that we watched him go through last night and also the potential for penalties."
Steve Burraston, senior executive officer of Newcastle, for which Johns played all of his top grade league, said he did not believe any official had been aware of the drug problem.
Burraston said "heads would roll" if it was found anyone in a position of authority knew Johns was using drugs and failed to take action.
"I'm of the firm view if you ignore it, you condone it so if there are people that did know that and did not offer assistance then we have a major drama that we need to deal with," he said.
Leading media commentator Roy Masters, a former NRL coach, said Friday he was aware of Johns' drug use.
"It's been well known in the league community for a long period of time that Andrew Johns was a drug taker," Masters said in an interview with Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"I've confronted him with it, confronted his manager with it. Defamation laws prevent you from writing it."
Johns was arrested Sunday in London for being in possession of an ecstasy tablet. He was released by police with a caution.
The former international scrumhalf initially claimed the tablet was put into his pocket by a stranger at a nightclub but later admitted it was his.
"I took the drugs to escape from the pressure and get away from being a football player," Johns said.
"I was going to take the pill for sure.
"I'm not looking for sympathy, I put my hand up. I've done the wrong thing."
Johns won credit for confessing but anti-drug campaigners and some lawmakers were critical of his actions.
"I understand from a personal point of view that he was a man who became a star at 19, and I know how difficult that is, fame, fortune and all that sort of stuff," said the Premier of Queensland state Peter Beattie.
"I can understand the point about pressures and what that meant, and therefore I have some sympathy for him as an individual. But I have to say as a parent, this is a dreadful role model, and no one can say otherwise."


Updated : 2021-01-18 07:06 GMT+08:00