AFL launches review after ‘revelations’ about concussion expert

Brad Sheppard is about to drop the ball onto his boot as rain falls around him

The AFL has announced an independent review into the doctor who spearheaded the development of the league’s concussion policy.

Key points:

  • The AFL says “recent revelations” have prompted a review into the work and advice provided by Dr Andrew McCrory
  • The league says Dr McCrory “was understood to be a pre-eminent expert in the field” of sport and concussion
  • Three players have been forced to retire from the AFL in the past 12 months due to concussion

The “work, research and advice” provided to the AFL by Associate Professor Andrew McCrory will be analysed by medical professionals after recent revelations about McCrory.

An AFL statement pointed to “one instance of admitted scientific plagiarism by Associate Professor McCrory and the suggestion of other instances of plagiarism”.

The AFL also said it was previously unaware of “recent revelations” that McCrory had provided an “enforceable undertaking” to the Medical Board of Australia that he would not “perform neurodiagnostic procedures and/or nerve conduction studies and/or electromyography”.

Through his work as chair of the Concussion in Sport Group, McCrory assisted with the development of the AFL’s concussion guidelines, including the return-to-play protocols that currently prevent a player from playing within seven days of a diagnosed concussion.

The AFL stressed that the league did not employ McCrory directly and his was not the only medical advice it relied upon in relation to concussion.

But they conceded “he was an important and long-standing adviser on concussion and he was understood by the AFL to be a pre-eminent expert in the field”.

Three AFL players — Collingwood’s Levi Greenwood and West Coast pair Daniel Venables and Brad Sheppard — have been forced into early retirements in the past 12 months due to concussion-related issues.

Brad Sheppard is about to drop the ball onto his boot as rain falls around him
West Coast’s Brad Sheppard retired due to the ongoing effects of concussions suffered during games.(AAP Image: James Ross)

“The number-one priority of our code is to protect the health and wellbeing of all people who participate in our game,” the AFL statement said.

“As is common practice in academic institutions and other organisations in which allegations of plagiarism are made or admitted, the AFL believes it important as a matter of integrity to ascertain the status and the reliability of past research activities and outcomes, and clinical work in which Dr McCrory has been involved for the AFL.

“This independent review will be conducted by an independent senior counsel and a professor of medicine experienced in medical and medical research ethics.”



Author: Ivan Robinson