Former St Kilda player Sam Gilbert has accepted a two-year suspension for an anti-doping violation that occurred in 2019, when he was off St Kilda's list and playing for Sandringham in the VFL.
The 33-year-old tested positive for cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine on matchday after playing for Sandringham in May last year and has been serving a provisional suspension since June 6, 2019.
Sam Gilbert in action for the Saints in 2018.Credit:AAP
Gilbert had retired from the AFL at the end of 2018 after playing 208 games with the Saints, which included the 2009 and 2010 grand finals, and taken up an assistant coaching and playing role with St Kilda's VFL affiliate in 2019.
However as he was playing in the VFL competition he was still subject to ASADA's anti-doping rules.
ASADA investigated Gilbert and he is understood to have made submissions. However he accepted the penalty after receiving an infraction notice rather than take his case to a hearing.
It was accepted in the decision to impose a two-year penalty on Gilbert that the substance was taken in a context unrelated to the sport and not in order to gain an advantage.
However he was not granted a reduction on the basis of the presence of cocaine being due to no significant fault on his behalf.
Several players – who were on AFL lists at the time of their positive test including Collingwood's Sam Murray and Gold Coast's Brayden Crossley – had their penalties reduced to below two years as they argued there was no significant fault.
Under a revision to WADA rules to be introduced in 2021, athletes found with a metabolite for cocaine in their system on match day will not receive such lengthy suspensions, with the penalty to be reduced to three months.
It's possible Gilbert could apply to have his penalty reconsidered under that new rule at the start of next year, which would allow him to coach or continue playing before June 2021.
Players in the VFL who are not on AFL lists are subject to the AFL anti-doping code and random match-day testing, but they are not covered by the AFL's illicit drug code.
Gilbert played his final game for the Saints in round 23, 2018 after making his debut in 2006. He became a highly regarded defender and is well respected at the club.
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