If the facts are confirmed the players will record a detection or “strike” under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy. Under the policy, they would receive a suspended $5000 fine. A four-match suspension follows if there is a subsequent second strike. But sources said the pair had no previous detections.
Crows football chief Adam Kelly refused to confirm the specific substance when questioned about whether it was cocaine on Monday.
“I’m not at liberty to say what they were caught in possession of,” Kelly said.
“They are still two members of the community, who are entitled to some privacy around the matter. It’s not for us to disclose, it’s for them. It’s a matter that we’ll deal with in a private manner.”
Kelly said that further sanctions were “inevitable,” especially as Stengle transgressed earlier in the year.
Stengle is contracted to the Crows until the end of 2022.
The incident has the potential to hurt Crouch’s market value and could sway the Crows to match any bid for the midfielder should he choose to leave. Adelaide have been hopeful that a compensation pick for Crouch would hand them pick No. 2, but may be better suited forcing Crouch’s club of choice into a trade.
Kelly said contract discussions had been put on the backburner for now.
“I think those discussions with Brad and his management will be on hold. We need to work through these issues before we start talking about contracts,” he said.
Adelaide say they are conducting an investigation.
South Australian police confirmed the incident in a statement on Monday afternoon.
“At 5.15am on Monday 28 September, 2020, police spoke with a 21-year-old man and a 26-year-old man on Grenfell Street, Adelaide. As a result, both men were drug diverted,” said an SA Police spokesperson.
“Police have no further comment to make in relation to this matter.”
The Crows have said neither player will be charged, with police instead referring them to counselling.
“First and foremost, the alleged conduct is serious and we will continue to ask questions and make sure we have all of the facts before settling on a definitive position going forward,” Kelly said.
“The club will also liaise closely with the AFL and AFL Players’ Association during this process, including working through any consequences under the AFL’s illicit drug policy.
“What is absolutely clear is that all players across the league are well educated about drug use and relevant policies.
“As an organisation, we take a very strong stance against any behaviour of this kind.
“The wellbeing of Brad and Tyson is also paramount and we will make sure they receive appropriate support.”
The players released a joint statement via their management agency, W Sports & Media.
“We acknowledge the statement made by the Adelaide Football Club earlier today,” said Stengle and Crouch.
“We unconditionally accept responsibility. We accept that our error of judgment is not in line with community expectations nor the high standards we set for ourselves. In this regard, we are committed to the counselling process that SA Police has implemented to manage this and will continue to cooperate with our club as required. We will be making no further comments until any club process is concluded.”
It continues a turbulent year off-field for Stengle, who was suspended by Adelaide in April for four matches for a drink-driving offence. The Crows, who this season claimed the wooden spoon for the first time in their 30-year history, also lost assistant coach Ben Hart to a six-week suspension for a breach of the AFL’s coronavirus protocols.
Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter