COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley has refused to answer questions from Fox Footy personality Gerard Whateley in an interview that turned sour.
Buckley bristled in an awkward end to his regular appearance on SEN Radio’s Whateley morning show when the former ABC sport commentator asked for answers surrounding Magpies player Sam Murray’s alleged positive test for a banned illicit substance, reported to be cocaine.
The Magpies have confirmed that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority is investigating Murray, who is in his debut AFL season.
Collingwood has denied it has a culture problem, with Murray’s investigation coming three years after the doping bans for Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas.
Whateley grilled the high-flying Collingwood mentor, who is preparing for a highly-anticipated return to finals footy against West Coast at Optus Stadium next weekend.
Whateley’s line of questioning surrounding accusations of illicit substance use as an embedded cultural problem at Buckley’s football club saw the chat turn icy.
Whateley and Buckley have been media colleagues at Fox Footy for many years and on Wednesday night conducted a perfectly friendly interview for Fox Footy’s AFL 360 before they reportedly travelled to the All Australian ceremony together.
It turned frosty on Thursday.
Here’s where the interview fell off the tracks.
Gerard Whateley: You have dealt with drug issues either fairly or unfairly in the past, some documented, some by interpretation or extrapolation. Does Collingwood have an issue with illicit drugs?”
Nathan Buckley: No, not that I know of.
GW: Would you know if you did?
GW: Did it previously?
NB: I’m really disappointed that I need to answer these questions from you. And I suppose it goes back to my last answer. This is not something that is big on our agenda right now because it’s isolated. So that’s where it stays and we move on with what we can control. As our football has done the talking this year, our record in retrospect will do the talking. So I’ll be happy to stand on that.
GW: Have you made a dedicated effort on this front previously? I mean you have two live examples of players who have their careers interrupted and one sort of deviated and then you live through the front page issues and what issues that may or may not have had on your team. Eddie McGuire said it did. Then a few years later you’re facing one of those issues again. Did you make a determined effort at the club to try to make sure you wouldn’t have to face this?
NB: Did you feel the environment in this studio change a minute ago?
GW: Yeah, but it’s my job to ask the questions and I’m happy to ask them.
NB: I’m not going to answer them right now, mate. I’m really happy with how the club is going. I’m really happy with how the club is going. I think that we are in a great space and heading in a really positive direction. We are full of people who are fallible and are human and who make mistakes. Some of those mistakes are more public than others, but we embrace our humanity and our fallibility and we support our people to the hilt. I think that’s one of the strengths of our football club. If you want to call it culture, we’re not perfect, and we won’t be, but the quest for us to be as good a football team as we can and the quest for us to be the best football club as we can is what we’re on and if we have our imperfections laid to bare and judged externally, well that’s a fair thing for us because we’re in a public forum, but one thing I’m going to do is support and encourage our people as much as we possibly can.
Murray, 20, could potentially face a four-year ban as illicit substances are considered performance-enhancing in match day tests.
Collingwood released a statement after news broke last week 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.