Collingwood defender Sam Murray could face a four-year AFL ban if an ASADA anti-doping investigation finds him guilty.
The Magpies have confirmed that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is investigating Murray, who is in his debut AFL season.
Collingwood also deny they have a culture problem, with Murray’s investigation coming three years after the doping bans for Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas.
Murray, 20, allegedly tested positive on match day for a banned illicit substance, with speculation that the drug is cocaine.
As illicit substances are considered performance-enhancing in match day tests, Murray faces a ban of up to four years.
Former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings said Murray would be in trouble if the investigation finds the Magpies backman knowingly took the substance.
“The challenge for a player testing positive for an illicit drug on match day is proving reduced fault,” Ings tweeted.
“You need to show that you took reasonable steps to avoid ingesting the banned substance.
“If you took it knowingly then you are toast.”
Murray was a late withdrawal from last Saturday’s win over Port Adelaide, with Collingwood citing personal reasons.
It is unlikely he will play again this season.
Apart from the seriousness of Murray’s plight, his absence is also a blow for the Magpies.
They are back in the finals for the first time since 2013, despite a bad run with injuries.
Murray has earned a Rising Star nomination and played 13 games in his debut season after joining the Magpies from Sydney.
ASADA last week reportedly made the 20-year-old aware of an elevated reading for an illicit substance stemming from the match day test.
News of Murray’s investigation was broken on the AFL website, but AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told 3AW he could not comment.
Collingwood released a statement after news broke of the ASADA investigation, saying they are committed to eliminating drugs in sport.
“We fully support all anti-doping policies and our athletes understand the rules in place. Collingwood has worked hard to develop a culture of professionalism and respect within its teams and we are making great progress,” said Magpies chief executive Mark Anderson.
“In addition to ensuring we comply fully with the ASADA process, we are also ensuring that we support Sam as a person.”
Murray has sought independent legal advice.
Three years ago, Collingwood players Josh Thomas and Lachie Keeffe were banned for two years after testing positive to the banned substance Clenbuterol.
Later on Friday, Anderson spoke in Perth a day before Collingwood’s game against Fremantle and would not go into any specifics of the investigation, the alleged positive test or Murray’s future at the club.
He also strongly denied that the Magpies have culture issues.
“The other incidents (Keeffe and Thomas) were some time ago … I’m extremely impressed with the people we have leading, and certainly the culture that exists within the club,” Anderson said.
“It’s true to say that all sports have gotten better at drug education (in the last three years).”