West Coast coach Adam Simpson says club great Peter Sumich has effectively given the players a “slap in the face” over his “unfounded” comments about potential drug use at the AFL club.
Eagles goalsneak Willie Rioli is facing a four-year ban after allegedly tampering with his urine sample during a routine ASADA drug test.
It was reported that a dehydrated Rioli spent several frustrating hours unable to pass any urine before deciding to pour a sports drink into his test jar.
Simpson, however, scoffed at the report.
“You gotta be really careful about what you hear and read… I’m hearing a different story every day,” he said.
Sumich raised eyebrows on the weekend when he said there might be a wider problem at the Eagles if Rioli is proven to have tampered with his urine sample to conceal something sinister.
The former full-forward was an assistant coach at West Coast when drug use was rife among the player group in the early-to-mid 2000s.
Sumich said that experience had taught him that there could be wider issues at a club if someone is caught doing something bad.
Simpson was livid with Sumich’s comments, especially with how he drew parallels with what happened at the Eagles during the Ben Cousins era.
“It’s just disappointing that you can compare the two and automatically switch to something that happened 12 years ago,” Simpson told Channel 7.
“After what we’ve heard initially with what has happened with Willie – it’s a completely different situation.
“I’m really disappointed in those comments.
“For someone who hasn’t been at the club for 10 years – it’s a bit of an insult to the people who have done all the work to create a really strong culture that’s got a really good pedigree.
“[The comments are] a bit unfounded and a bit frustrating really.
“It’s a bit of a slap in the face to the players and the staff who have all the hard work to get the club in a position where we think we’ve got a really strong respected culture.”
Simpson wasn’t able to comment on reports that Rioli had a subsequent urine or blood test after his alleged urine tampering.
The premiership coach isn’t sure how long the matter will take to resolve, but it is highly unlikely Rioli will be available to play next year.
“Our biggest concern at the moment is Willie’s mental health,” Simpson said.
“We’re on the lookout for that. He’s with family at the moment. We’re putting all our support around him.
“What will be will be. And if he’s made a mistake, he’ll pay the consequences.
“But at the moment our biggest concern is Willie’s health and making sure he’s in a good enough space so he can carry on day to day.”
The controversy erupted just days before West Coast’s semi-final against Geelong at the MCG last Friday night.
West Coast players looked flat early in that game, with Geelong going on to win by 20 points to end the Eagles’ flag defence.
Watch Simpson’s full interview with Channel 7 up top.