We want to win back your trust: AFL
Justin Chadwick
21:19 AEST Wed May 22 2013

Tanking issues, fears of illegal supplement use and salary cap breaches.

The AFL has had plenty to deal with in recent times, but chief executive Andrew Demetriou says the league is desperate to win back the trust of any disillusioned fans.

The supplements saga that has rocked Essendon to its core is the biggest headache for the AFL.

But there have been plenty of side issues for Demetriou and his team to deal with.

Melbourne were fined $500,000 earlier this year and Chris Connolly and Dean Bailey were suspended despite the Demons being cleared of tanking during the second half of 2009.

Last November, former Adelaide forward Kurt Tippet was hit with an 11-match ban, and a trio of current and former Crows officials were suspended after the club was found guilty of draft tampering and salary cap breaches.

And more recently, the AFL's partnership with betting agencies has come under fire, with Melbourne great and former gambling addict David Schwarz accusing the league of becoming "drunk" on the revenue they gain from such deals.

Demetriou said the litany of recent issues had the potential to gnaw away at the AFL's brand.

But he was confident the game was strong enough to overcome the controversies.

"Those things chip away at the brand equity," Demetriou said on Wednesday.

"There's no doubt (fans) want their trust restored in the faith of the game.

"They don't like super arms - the pharmacological war.

"They don't like hearing about tanking. They don't like hearing about the Adelaide Football Club and what happened with Kurt Tippett.

"They don't like things that almost tinker with their trust in the game.

"And that's why we're determined to absolutely mitigate the risk when it comes to any challenge to the integrity of the game."

Demetriou expects the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) interviews with Essendon players to take a few more weeks.

The anti-doping probe is starting to take its toll on the Bombers, who have dropped their past two games after starting the season with six straight wins.

Former ASADA boss Richard Ings has expressed fears that junior footy players might be tempted to use banned supplements in their bid to make the elite level.

Demetriou shared those concerns, describing it as an "absolute worry".

"It is absolutely true that in a desire to make the A grade, to get to the elite level, we're seeing some players who purchase things over the internet who are particularly vulnerable to performance-enhancing drugs," Demetriou said.

"They believe it's their best opportunity to make it in the big league.

"One of the things we've certainly homed in on is updating the education not just for the elite level, but for our state bodies and our junior leagues, because it's filtering down."

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