AFL defends Crows camp probe
GILLON McLachlan has defended the handling of the AFL’s investigation into Adelaide’s infamous 2018 camp as the fallout of Eddie Betts’ startling revelations continues.
The AFL chief executive has publicly apologised to the former Carlton and Adelaide champion after Betts detailed disturbing accounts of the Crows’ ill-fated pre-season trip to the Gold Coast.
Betts, when giving an interview after the release of his autobiography on Wednesday, claimed he had told the AFL “everything” four years ago but felt like he was not listened to.
McLachlan hit out at suggestions the AFL did not take action, saying the league has cracked down on club camps since, and there was a “response”.
A SafeWork SA investigation last year cleared Adelaide of breaching health and safety laws, and an AFL probe in October 2018 cleared the Crows of any industry rule breach.
“The difference between finding things that have been frankly disgraceful, as opposed to breaking laws or rules, that is a challenging one to deal with,” McLachlan told 3AW on Friday.
“In terms of the lack of action, I don’t agree with that either.
“Our response has been to make changes to say now every camp has to be signed off by the AFL to protect the physical and mental wellbeing of all the participants.
“I now have structured, regular communications with our Indigenous cohort.”
McLachlan said he was in regular contact with Betts but was “wounded” to read the Indigenous icon’s accounts in his book, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent.
Betts said he lost the passion for football after the camp and never found it again before his retirement at the end of the 2021 season.
“When I heard it would help in his journey – if that (apology) was public – I am very happy to do it,” McLachlan said.
“We are sorry for the broader failings.
“In terms of breaching our rules, or then in terms of breaching (SafeWork SA) safety issues, it was found it wasn’t.
“It doesn’t mean there were things there that were disgracefully executed to which we made change to the system.
“I am sorry that Ed was wounded.”
In his book, Betts also claims he was silenced by the Crows after receiving a racist letter leading into Sir Doug Nicholls Round in 2016.
Betts wanted to reveal the letter to the media during a press conference at the time but was told by club representatives to stay quiet.
McLachlan told 3AW he was unaware of that incident before reading Betts’ book this week but said the AFL would investigate the issue.
The AFL Players Association have been left shocked by Betts’ revelations and has decided to reopen an investigation.
Crows chief executive Tim Silvers, who was appointed to the role in March 2021, publicly and privately apologised to Betts on Wednesday for the trauma the AFL great has endured.
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